Non-political firms looking for a way into the campaign market may have found a new inroad through acquiring shops that already operate in the industry.
Despite the campaign industry’s reputation as difficult to crack, consumer-focused firms were bullish about tapping the political market ahead of the 2016 cycle.
Their model had been to hire sales people with campaign experience, circulate at industry events and court press coverage of their services. But after the dust settled on 2016, revenue reportedly didn’t equal expectations. That shortfall came despite an unprecedented $1.415 billion being spent on online advertising by the local, state, and national campaigns last cycle.
Now, Altice USA appears to have hit on a different strategy with its acquisition of Audience Partners, which operates in the political space via Campaign Grid. Altice USA is a subsidiary of the international telecommunications giant Altice Group, which is based in Holland.
Audience Partners is touting the deal to clients as a way to give them added resources to align their TV and digital campaigns. “We look forward to working with Dexter [Goei, chairman/CEO of Altice US] and the team to combine Altice USA’s expertise in addressable television with our unique addressable digital solutions to meet the evolving needs of all of our clients across all platforms,” Jeff Dittus, Audience Partners’ CEO, said in a statement.
Campaign industry M&A activity has been relatively muted since Bully Pulpit Interactive, with backing from Svoboda Capital Partners LLC and support from AdMedia Partners, acquired The Incite Agency, last September. A year before that deal happened, Stagwell Group, the investment firm founded by Mark Penn, acquired SKDKnickerbocker and later purchased research firm NRG and Code and Theory, a digital agency.
Meanwhile on the right, Targeted Victory announced in November that as of January 2017 it will operate as two different firms under the same name. Michael Beach is focused on courting corporate clients under a new entity, while partner Zac Moffatt remains focused on the firm’s political clients.