WPP’s GroupM Buys Data Science Firm Sandtable

This is WPP’s second acquisition in less than a month

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WPP is in the middle of a three-year turnaround plan. - Credit by WPP
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Key insight:

WPP’s media investment arm GroupM has purchased data science outfit Sandtable, as the holding group continues to implement its three-year turnaround plan.

Financial details of the deal were not publicly disclosed. The U.K.-headquartered Sandtable has already been integrated into GroupM’s technology practice, according to a statement announcing the transaction.

According to documents Sandtable filed with Companies House, the central registry for U.K. businesses, the company was originally incorporated in 2005, and lists its CEO, Andrew Skates, along with WPP officials as people with “a significant control” of the outfit.

A statement from WPP claims the purchase will help it use data science to understand human behavior using agent-based modeling (ABM), making GroupM “the first media agency group to purposefully invest in ABM.”

Sandtable uses data science to help clients forecast how media interventions can drive behavioral change, such as brand choice, customer retention and voting patterns.

The purchase also comes less than a month after WPP’s Wunderman Thompson unit has acquired Xumak, a marketing technology consultancy that specializes in using the Adobe Experience Manager.

Last week, WPP announced 2019 revenues of £13.2 billion (just over $14 billion), which were flat compared to 2018, a performance that caused its stock price to tumble by more than 15% in a day. CEO Mark Read told financial analysts that the performance was in line with the advertising giant’s three-year turnaround plan, and that things “are on track.”

Forrester principal analyst Jay Pattisall commented, “For WPP, 2019 was a transition year that included sizeable organizational changes,” citing VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson; company and real estate restructuring; the establishment of a new management team and leaders at operating companies; and the sale of Kantar. “The question is, how soon in 2020 will we start to see the benefit of all these efforts?”

@ronan_shields ronan.shields@adweek.com Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.
Publish date: March 5, 2020 https://dev.adweek.com/agencies/wpps-groupm-buys-data-science-firm-sandtable/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT