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Ebiquity plc: THE INVESTMENT CASE

Ebiquity on track after solid start to 2017

Total revenues for the six months to 30 June grew by 5%, with Ebiquity adding it remains confident in hitting its operating profits and earnings targets for the rest of the year
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INVESTMENT OVERVIEW: EBQ The Big Picture
Ebiquity's technology helps companies to monitor and refine their marketing strategies

Marketing and media analytics specialist Ebiquity PLC (LON:EBQ) is on track to hit full-year market expectations after a solid first half performance.

Total revenues for the six months to 30 June grew by 5%, with Ebiquity adding it remains confident in hitting its operating profits and earnings targets for the rest of the year.

Boost from recent product launches 

Revenues from the AIM-quoted group’s Portfolio platform business, which accounts for over 90% of the Market Intelligence division, returned to growth in the period.

That was mainly down to high renewal rates and the launch of Portfolio Digital – a new platform designed to monitor online display advertising – in Europe and Asia earlier this year.

As expected, revenues from the project-based reputation business declined in the first half.

In the Media Value Measurement division, revenues achieved “high single digit growth” in the opening six months of 2017 as clients continue to focus on achieving media transparency.

The performance of the US side of the business was softer than anticipated during the period due to a lower rate of client renewals, although Ebiquity said it was in the process of strengthening its team across the pond in response to these “changing client demands”.

Revenues over in the Marketing Performance optimisation arm continued to grow in the first half, most notably within the UK business. Like with the MVM division, performance in the US fell behind expectations due to “organisational changes” at some of the group’s largest clients.

Stronger second half anticipated

“Whilst the first half of the year has been softer in the US, we anticipate stronger performance from the US MPO and MVM in the second half of the year and we are pleased that the MI practice has returned to growth following high renewal rates and new product launches,” the company said in this morning’s statement.

“Management anticipate that full year trading will be broadly in line with market expectations.”

The full set of interim results will be released on 26 September 2017.

New platforms…

As mentioned above, Ebiquity launched a couple of new platforms earlier this year which have served as a boost so far in 2017.

Portfolio Digital was rolled out in the UK in April after a successful Lunch in Australia at the start of the year.

READ: Ebiquity launches Portfolio Digital

WATCH: Portfolio Digital 'really well received'

It allows subscribers to track competitors' media strategy, messaging and tactics, including how much and how frequently they are spending, how their ads appear, and their position on the web pages where they appear.

It does this by capturing thousands of UK web pages for both desktop and mobile audiences, and reporting on a number of digital ad formats such as webpage takeovers, interactive media and embedded video, as well as traditional display.

Ebiquity also launched its Total View Attribution service only last month and, although it didn’t impact the first half results, the company hopes it will make a difference going forward.

READ: Ebiquity unveils Total View Attribution service

It enables businesses to improve the return on investment of their multi-channel marketing activity and guide investment strategy development.

In other words, it measures how big a bang it gets for its buck (or how big a punch it gets for its pound).

The service uses Ebiquity’s proprietary technology and expertise to accurately measure and analyse the returns generated through advertisers' marketing and media investments across all channels both on and offline.

Finally there’s the Ebiquity Media Transparency Score which was also launched in July.

READ: Transparency Score to help advertisers benchmark performance

The company describes it as an “innovative” measurement and evaluation tool to help advertisers benchmark performance on an annual basis and improve media effectiveness.

It is housed in the firm’s Media Value Measurement division and was developed in response to the growing need for advertisers to better understand and manage the increasingly complex digital “media ecosystem”.

The service comprises a questionnaire, which advertisers will complete on an annual basis, producing an absolute and relative value which can then be used as a benchmark metric for performance.

Mind the GAP …

Analysts at Numis said: “The group detailed its Growth Acceleration Plan last year and has already delivered on a number of milestones, for example the Strategic Media Consultancy, roll-out of effectiveness practices, digital product development and talent review programme.”

The analysts slightly lowered their profit before tax estimate for 2017 to £12mln, although they maintained their prediction of £11.3mln for 2018, the peak year of the GAP investment programme.

Repeating a ‘buy’ rating, they concluded: “We believe that overall the group is making good progress and remain buyers against a 161p target price".

Ebiquity slipped to 118p after the interim results, although they are up by 18.7% in the year-to-date.

Further progress should be expected as the Growth Accelerations Plan plays out.

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