Merkle is a leading US database marketing and digital performance agency that until recently operated mainly in the US. It has featured repeatedly among the leaders in Forrester's various surveys of marketing technology disciplines: one of only three leaders among database and customer engagement agencies evaluated by Forrester in 2018, and a leader in search marketing in 2017. Since its acquisition in 2016 by Dentsu Aegis Network it has begun expanding what was previously only a limited international presence into a full global network. The 18 outposts across the US are now partnered by almost another 30 across Europe and Asia, either offices of the main Merkle agency or of various satellite units already owned or acquired by Dentsu Aegis and migrated into Merkle's overall offering. These include digital and social media agencies Columbus, Hello World and Axis41 and tech media planner-buyer DWA. Acquisitions in 2019 included Seattle-based digital design agency Filter, as well as Happy Marketer in Singapore and India-based analytics firm Ugam. Some of these bolt-ons were absorbed into the main agency; others continue to operate under their original name or as co-branded satellites (such as Merkle DWA, for example). As a result of this expansion, Merkle's revenues have risen considerably, more than doubling since its acquisition. For 2019, AdAge estimated a global total of over $1.0bn, making Merkle the second largest network within Dentsu Aegis Network after Carat. Merkle is still led by chairman & CEO David Williams, who, aged just 25, bought a small IT services consultancy in 1988 that had been part of regional printer Merkle Press. As a result of a string of acquisitions of other analytics, digital services and social media agencies across the US and in the UK he had built the headcount from just 20 to around 1,000 staff by 2015. Since acquisition by DAN that total has expanded to more than 9,000 employees. DAN originally purchased a 66% stake in Merkle for a rumoured $1.5bn. It acquired the remaining stake in 2020 for an undisclosed sum. Shortly afterwards, founder Williams passed over the role of Merkle CEO to Craig Dempster, previously president, Americas. Williams remains chairman as well as CEO of global CRM for Dentsu Aegis Network.
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Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.
Capsule checked 16th June 2020
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Sep 2020: Merkle is rapidly becoming one of the dominant brands within Dentsu Aegis Network, challenging even Carat in size and spread. In its latest evolution, the agency is uniting with four other agencies within the group to create a dedicated Merkle B2B offering led by divisional CEO Michael McLaren. Joining Merkle's existing B2B offering are Gyro, Merkle DWA, B2B International and Digital Pi. The combined entity will offer a full selection of digital and traditional marketing services. Ultimately, all four satellite units will migrate to the Merkle B2B banner, though in some cases that may not happen until 2021.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: The remaining pool of mid-size independent agencies just got even smaller with the acquisition of US digital and loyalty marketing shop HelloWorld by Dentsu Aegis Network. The Detroit-based agency, best-known for sweepstakes, games and promotional contests, joins DAN's Merkle data and CRM division. Though it maintains a low profile, HelloWorld has some heavy hitters on its client list, including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Former Experian, Carlson and FCB exec Peter DeNunzio will remain as CEO.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: Dentsu Aegis Network snapped up technology media agency DWA, appointed only last week as Cisco Systems' new global media shop. The agency has become a division of DAN's data and CRM network Merkle.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Nov 2016: In another major blow to major marketing networks, the WSJ reports that Warner Bros and sister business HBO have moved their US digital media accounts - Warner's alone is worth in excess of $250m in billings - from Omnicom's OMD to Merkle, the CRM agency recently acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Aug 2016: Hot on the heels of its deal for Gyro, Dentsu Aegis Network added another string to its bow with the acquisition of US CRM giant Merkle. The purchase will fill a significant hole in the group's US portfolio, which currently lacks strength in data-marketing. Terms were not disclosed, but media reports identified a valuation for Merkle of $1.5bn including debt. Dentsu said Merkle has revenues of $436m last year. DAN is buying out Merkle's majority shareholder, the investment fund Technology Crossover Ventures, and other investors. However, management and employees will collectively retain a minority holding in the business.
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