Merkle Acquires Pointmarc To Merge Media And Marketing Analytics Services

ZhengdaDatabase marketing and CRM agency Merkle has acquired performance marketing agency Pointmarc, a Seattle-based digital analytics consultancy. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal is the latest in an acquisitions spree for Merkle, which acquired paid search and social agency RKG last July and earlier bought Chicago digital agency New Control, design firm 5th Finger and social commerce shop Social Amp.

Pointmarc will be integrated in to Merkle’s Quantitative Marketing Group, a $100 million moneymaker for the $382 million-a-year company. It will now employ 450 data and analytics professionals, 100 of whom Merkle inherited through the Pointmarc deal.

“In a mobile world there’s a need to understand not only traditional analytics, but marketing and ad tech, and how the data flows throughout the ecosystem,” Zhengda Shen, Merkle’s EVP of data and analytics, told AdExchanger. “It’s much bigger than building the most advanced statistical model, so [there's been a bit of a talent gap] in [the] understanding of how data flows.”

In addition to adding more technical prowess to client services, Shen said Pointmarc served many Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, T-Mobile and Williams-Sonoma, which served its interests from a client and culture standpoint. Pointmarc has several West Coast offices including Seattle and San Francisco, which will help extend Merkle’s Maryland roots to key tech centers. 

“In the last few years, we’ve really expanded the digital media side of our analytics business, and Pointmarc was really good at site and channel-based optimization,” Shen said. “From Merkle’s perspective, it will bring a lot of competitive advantage to how we compete in the marketplace. Ten years ago, we competed with Acxiom and Epsilon, and our goal is to build the next-generation analytics organization.”

Both traditional and digital marketing analytics are in high demand. Google and AOL respectively acquired Adometry and Convertro last year, and marketing analytics shop MarketShare last week bought DataSong, a startup focused on retail marketing analytics and campaign execution.

Pointmarc was a big Adobe Marketing Cloud services shop, a factor that bodes well for Merkle, which works with many enterprise clients to provide a service layer for Adobe integrations (think Adobe Target for site testing and optimization, Adobe AudienceManager for segmentation and targeting and Adobe Analytics for web analytics).

But Shen said Merkle is seeing RFPs across the board, ranging from large marketing clouds down to point solutions providers, like tag managers and other data services shops.

"Another big category is attribution and measurement, so there are a lot of new types of integrations,” Shen said. “In the past, major advertisers did more of a top-down optimization and the direct marketing side did a lot of the offline, direct mail campaigns, which was very easy to measure.”

Not so anymore, since the two sides are combining. Shen said one major financial services company conducted 70% of its business offline, but used a digital attribution tool that rendered its results inaccurate.

Shen said the blurring of the lines between agencies, enterprise marketing companies and systems integrators, should serve both traditional and advanced analytics needs.

“IBM and Accenture, the systems integrators, are getting into the marketing side when buying tech has historically been the CIO’s responsibility,” Shen said. Whereas, the “agency side is moving down the funnel [from paid advertising and branding] and getting into marketing analytics and technology. There is a broad convergence among all the players.”

 

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