aQuantive Integration News

I’ve been asked by a couple friends in the industry my thoughts on how the aQuantive integration has gone to date, and my feedback has been positive. Having lived through a couple acquisition/mergers, including the massive SBC purchase of Pacific Bell back in the mid-90s (followed by AmeriTech and SNET), I had low expectations going into the acquisition planning sessions – but have been pleasantly surprised by both the speed and efficiency of the process, and the decisions being made at most levels. Then a team mate shared a ClickZ article that presented a similar opinion, and I thought I’d share some of it here:

Microsoft completed its acquisition of digital ad giant aQuantive for $6 billion a long 11 months ago.

The transaction remains the largest to date in the digital marketing space — a record unlikely to be broken until either AOL or Yahoo is acquired. With the deal’s anniversary approaching, it’s a good time to assess the integration. Many expected a messy one, given aQuantive’s enormous size and the companies’ presumably divergent cultures (After all, aQuantive came with a creative and media services agency). Probably a horror show over there, right?

Not so, according to a number of sources both inside and outside Microsoft. In fact the growing consensus is that aQuantive’s culture and technology have begun to infuse its parent with new digital marketing mojo, and that both parties have managed to preserve advertiser relationships during the transition.

"It’s actually working far better than I thought it would work," said one Microsoft source, who asked not to be identified.

Specifically, this source said, Microsoft appears to be accelerating the development of targeting capabilities with aQuantive on board.

"I don’t have to worry about translating to someone [at Microsoft] why this is important," he said. "I have someone tell me how I should look at targeting. Those guys have been teaching Microsoft a lot of things. Culturally, they’re good people."

Agencies, site owners, and other partners are also pleased, but for different reasons. A number of agency execs say their primary contacts at aQuantive and Microsoft’s various units — which include DRIVEpm, MSN Network, adECN, Massive Inc. and others — have neither abruptly left, nor been transferred, nor laid off. In fact, some say communication with reps is better than ever, contrary to conventional merger wisdom.

"We see a lot of really good communication from both Microsoft and aQuantive relative to what they’re doing and a lot of inclusion of agencies," said David Smith, CEO of digital media agency Mediasmith.

Paul Uhlir, VP of business development for Seattle-based agency Dragon Media Online, said he initially feared losing access to people and campaign data as the company began combining its divisions. Those fears turned out to be unfounded.

"When I heard about the merger my first thought is I hope nothing messes up," he said. "I’ve been through a few bad acquisitions before and you can sense the acrimony and unhappiness. With both sides you don’t sense that. I think they’ve done a great job of keeping the teams in place."

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.