French advertising giant Publicis Groupe has acquired a small digital advertising firm, Engauge Marketing, which has built a roster of big-name clients such as Nationwide Insurance, Cisco Systems and Coca-Cola.
The deal highlights the increasing importance of social media in marketing campaigns. Huge agencies, which haven't always been nimble in digital space, are looking to roll up smaller shops that have greater expertise.
Six-year-old Engauge Marketing, which employs more than 250 people and is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is a full-service shop that specializes in digital advertising and social media. It will be folded into Publicis' ZenithOptimedia Group and work closely with the Atlanta-based digital agency Moxie.
Financial terms of the deal, which closed on Wednesday, were not divulged.
Private equity firm Halyard Capital, majority owner of Engauge, was looking for an exit. Executives have been shopping Engauge for about a year, and the alignment with Moxie "was the best fit," Nick Bandy, chief executive of Engauge, said in an interview.
The increasing importance of digital media is forcing marketing executives to quickly adapt. "Clients are trying to figure out how to be the most successful in this new digital landscape," Bandy said.
Suzy Deering, chief executive of Moxie, said: "Digital media is such an evolving landscape and the role of agencies will continue to evolve."
Together Moxie and Engauge will boast more than 600 employees in offices in Columbus, Atlanta, New York, Pittsburgh, Orlando and L.A.
The Paris-based Publicis, which includes the Leo Burnett agency and Saatchi & Saatchi LA, last month announced that it was merging with U.S. ad behemoth Omnicom to create the world's largest advertising company with a market value that would top $35 billion. That deal faces numerous regulatory hurdles.