iCrossing is a leading digital agency whose particular strengths were traditionally in search engine marketing and social media. Originally a specialist in search, it gradually evolved into a full-service agency offering a wide range of services including digital design and content creation. However, at the end of 2020, owner Hearst announced plans to integrate the agency into its existing magazine publishing business. That prompted the departure of several senior managers including president Mike Parker. Although iCrossing will retain its name (for the time being at least) it is expected to phase out legacy offerings such as search and social media for third-party clients, and will work more closely with magazine titles under the Hearst umbrella to generate branded content. The company was founded in Arizona in 1998 by Jeffrey Herzog as arguably the first standalone search marketing agency. It successfully survived the 2001 internet crash, and with private equity backing steadily expanded through a string of acquisitions including US web developer Proxicom, UK search marketer Spannerworks, 3GNet in Germany, and Latin America's Wallaby Group. Herzog stepped back from day-to-day management in 2008. Two years later, media group Hearst agreed to acquire the business for $325m, making it the core of a new marketing services division. As a result, iCrossing was supposed to be granted exclusive access to audience targeting data generated by the magazine division, but in reality there was growing friction between the two businesses, especially after 2018, and increasing pressure on iCrossing to work more closely with group-owned businesses. The business was led until 2013 by former Agency.com CEO Don Scales. Former McCann Worldgroup chief Nick Brien took over the CEO role in 2015 before moving on to Dentsu two years later, leading to the appointment of another McCann executive, Mike Parker. At the end of 2020, iCrossing became part of a newly created Hearst Services & Solutions division alongside production studio HearstMade. Brendan Moorcroft was named as president of the new division.
Capsule checked 28th December 2020
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