Over the past year, ad holding companies WPP Group and Publicis Groupe have increased their venture capital activity as opposed to buying smaller firms outright. Now, rival ad company Interpublic Group wants to do the same and has formed Mediabrands Venture Fund, Mediapost reported. For the moment, the fund’s charge is to support ideas and ventures in-house, a rep told me. Later on, the company will consider taking a general look at buying stakes in media and marketing services startups, with a particular emphasis on digital and on companies that can present a new way of doing business or has developed its own technology. But under the main purpose right now, IPG is interested in diversifying its brand offerings and encouraging staffers to think about new ideas.
The approach appears to differ from WPP’s somewhat, which has used its investment arm WPP Digital to acquire stakes in companies like Chinese rich media ad delivery outfit HDT Holdings Technologies, which is designed in part to give it a leg up in Asia, and game developer Realtime Worlds, which helps open up in-game ads as a new avenue for its clients’ spending. IPG will likely continue to make invests like its did in July, when it took a “strategic interest” in a company called Huge, which builds websites for marketers.