Havas Worldwide Digital nearly acquired the search agency Rimm-Kaufman Group prior to George Gallate, former global chairman, stepping in as the search agency's CEO. The move, announced December 2012, came about after he became "blown away by the incredible technology and the thought leadership backing RKG," he told MediaPost's Agency Daily.
A series of meetings changed the course of the two companies, after discovering that all parties had a similar perspective on digital media.
George Michie, RKG cofounder, said the company was never for sale, but he did want to move from being CEO to focus on technology and strategy. After Gallate accepted the offer to lead the company, Michie took on the role of chief marketing scientist. "We weren't interested in having them make a proposal, but I was interested in getting out of the CEO chair to focus more attention on how we do what we do, so we ended up making George an offer to join us," he said.
Prior to Gallate joining RKG, the company grew 87% in 2012. Expect a similar announcement for growth in 2013, he said.
Gallate built Havas Worldwide Digital's first digital agency, and then the network. After 27 years, he made the move to RKG to further his passion of social marketing, leading a group to combine data and triggers in search campaigns. At RKG, he will focus this year on the intersection of social and search, and the appropriate use of those signals.
"Going from being the global chairman of a very large international network, where any impact required me to lead a very large team, to being hands on with 200 of my colleagues is the most exciting experience since joining the company," Gallate said."I get to work hands-on with some of the smartest people, and engage with some of the most industry leading retailers. We know every minute if what we're doing is successful. It's very different from working in a global network."
When asked to describe the one thing he would like to see the advertising industry accomplish this year, Gallate said marketers must work at better matching messages with consumers. The industry has access to customer data, scientific methods and technology, but when combined they don't mesh.
"The fact that an ad server can retarget an advertisement in a fraction of a millisecond, because you've expressed an interest in that product before -- that's magic," he said. 'That's what happens when thought leadership meets the scientific method."