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Publicis' $4 billion acquisition of Epsilon was tipped by a 43% drop in hiring

4 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Features, Markets

In April 2019, Publicis Groupe ($EPA:PUB) announced it would acquire data-focused marketing firm Epsilon ($NYSE:ADS) for $4.4 billion. The deal closed relatively quickly for one of its size. On July 2, AdAge reported the deal closed for a net purchase price of $3.95 billion, making the acquisition the largest agency deal since 2013's Denstu Inc. acquisition of Aegis Group for $4.9 billion.

Just a day before the Publicis-Epsilon deal closed, Epsilon put the brakes on its hiring activity, slashing about 200 job postings overnight.

On virtually the same day, Publicis began hiring for 60 new openings — the biggest increase on the hiring front since March 2019, a month before the deal was announced.

It's common to see the subject of an acquisition drop back on hiring, both as a way to shore up resources and balance sheets as well as a way to consolidate talent acquisition efforts with an eye on post-merger workforce and cultural integration.

In the case of Epsilon and Publicis, the former was adds a data marketing and loyalty skillset that was additive to the latter's capabilities, allowing it to compete directly with consultancies like Accenture.

And as the deal was going through, it appears the two companies' HR departments were in on a future strategy aiming to integrate Epsilon's team and skillset as quickly as possible, without too much disruption.

Of the 160 jobs posted at Publicis in the wake of the merger, the new positions are directly related to data-focused marketing and programmatic media buying. Indeed, it looks as though the notable uptick in openings at Publicis are for positions that would become part of the nascent Epsilon data group.

Publicis Category


Media Trading


Media Performance


Data Sciences






Client Management


Meanwhile, of the remaining 258 openings at Epsilon as it goes into what is sure to be a lean and slow onboarding period, the majority are for client management positions as it focuses on retaining as much business during the transition. Of the top-10 most-common openings at Epsilon today, 7 are focused on client management and partnership.

Epsilon Job Title


Client Partnerships Associate


Client Partnerships Manager


Account Manager 2


Account Manager Affiliation


Marketing Coordinator


Client Integration Engineer


Senior Account Executive


Account Manager


Affiliate Manager - Digital - Bilingue anglais


Associate Director, Analytics Development


What we're seeing here are two companies that have the hard work of closing a massive deal behind them, and the even harder work of integrating clients and workforces ahead of it.

Publicis has been through acquisitions before, however, so as long as attrition is kept to a minimum (it recently lost its Chief Creative Officer to Apple), we'll likely be looking at a still-strong agency a year from now.

About the data:

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

Futher reading:

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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