Advertising agency WPP has further established itself in the social media space by acquiring the influencer marketing agency Goat.

Goat will join WPP’s media investment group, GroupM, with plans to merge with its influencer marketing solution INCA to create the industry’s first truly global influencer marketing agency with more than 300 employees in over 30 markets around the world.

Specialising in data-led and end-to-end influencer marketing campaigns grounded in performance, Goat was founded in 2015 by Arron Shepherd, Nick Cooke, and Harry Hugo. According to the agency, they’ve tracked the performance of over 50,000 influencer channels and more than a quarter of a billion pieces of content since then.

The agency’s successes have provided them with the opportunity to organise campaigns with influencers to promote major brands such as Meta, Tesco, Uber, EA, and Dell. But their newest acquisition brings exciting new possibilities in the future ahead.

An exciting time for influencer marketing

With its new acquisition, Goat will now support GroupM to drive growth through performance to help global brands activate campaigns anywhere in the world.

Harry Hugo, Co-Founder of Goat, took to LinkedIn to share his excitement after the announcement was made. He reflects on the company’s growth, saying, “I started Goat in a tiny office in Shoreditch with a dream to disrupt the media and marketing industry with a form of marketing that we believed would be the next big thing. It’s since become clear that was a decent bet.”

“Influencer marketing as a medium has come an awfully long way since (2015) and we at Goat have been fortunate enough to be at the cutting edge of it throughout its astronomic rise.”

In a statement from WPP, Christian Juhl, Global CEO of GroupM, says how influencer marketing is an exciting growth area for his business and one in which the company’s clients are looking for globally scaled and outcomes-driven capabilities.

On the acquisition, he shares his thoughts on the future possibilities it will bring, “The addition of Goat to GroupM gives us the ability to deliver accountable, cross-channel, and data-driven influencer solutions for clients anywhere in the world. Combined with the exceptional talent at INCA, we expect Goat to play a critical role in helping us define the next era of media at GroupM.”

Influencer marketing has come a long way

With Goat becoming the latest in a series of acquisitions from WPP’s accelerated growth strategy, Mark Read, CEO of WPP, agrees that influencer marketing is a key growth priority for the industry and for WPP in particular.

He shares, “Our clients are increasingly planning budgets at a global scale and require partners that have the global reach to help deliver, whilst driving engagement and impact at a local level. Goat’s proven track record in the influencer marketing space paired with GroupM’s record of excellence will continue to build on our unparalleled expertise in this area.”

Arron Shepherd, Co-Founder of Goat, joined the celebrations on LinkedIn, reflecting in a post on how far the industry has moved on from “very raw and humble beginnings”.

“We would take on work at tiny budgets just to prove to brands that this marketing channel called “influencer” was worth investing in. Those test campaigns developing into success stories would go on to form the bedrock of our business.”

The London-based agency has grown since its foundation, now with offices in the UK, US, and Singapore. Nick Cooke, Co-Founder of Goat, says the US business has always been close to his heart, and he believes that it was a critical reason for the WPP acquisition.

He explains, “It makes me very proud of our US team. The hardest days of my professional life were in the early years of being in NY and I'm so grateful to everyone who has played a part in making that office a success along the way - whether they are still with the business or not.”

With a traditional advertising company such as WPP investing in influencer marketing, this could be a sign of what’s to come, as the industry takes the channel more seriously and can see the potential it brings. More acquisitions like this may be on the way sooner than we know.

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