Saatchi Bros. Acquire Mobile Shop

M&C Saatchi on Wednesday agreed to acquire mobile marketing firm Inside Mobile. In turn, the independent ad agency is rebranding as M&C Saatchi Mobile. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Amid the broad adoption of smartphone technology, M&C Saatchi is betting that there is significant potential in offering mobile expertise across its client base, as well as continuing to develop new business, according to Moray MacLennan, Worldwide CEO of M&C Saatchi.

"The growth of mobile marketing will be dramatic over the next five years, and be central to many of our clients' communication plans," said MacLennan.

Back in 1995, Maurice and Charles Saatchi founded M&C Saatchi after being ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi. In recent years, the UK-based agency has aggressively expanded its global presence by opening more than 20 offices in over 15 countries.

Clients now include Reebok International, Yahoo Europe, AB-InBev-Becks and Sky. The agency's push into mobile ties in perfectly with its broader global expansion, MacLennan added.

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Inside Mobile was founded in 2006 by Dusan Hamlin and James Hilton. The two are now expected to stay on with the firm, and retain a 40% interest.

Prior to Inside Mobile, Hamlin served as head of Digital Communications for the Aegis/Isobar Network, as well as heading media and planning at several other agencies within WPP, Green Cathedral and Unique Digital.

Hilton, meanwhile, served as a marketing director for Weight Watchers Online, and MGM Mirage Online.

Average mobile ad spends are expected to increase by 80%, according to a recent survey of about 1,000 agencies, brand advertisers and publishers, and conducted by DM2Pro.com and mobile ad platform Mojiva. On average, client spending was pegged at $143,000 last year and $260,000 this year.

Many agencies, however, are looking beyond "traditional" ad-based strategies. The popularity of apps, for instance, is increasing exponentially among marketers and consumers alike.

Mobile phone users will spend $6.2 billion downloading apps this year -- up from $4.2 billion last year -- according to a report forecast from Gartner. The research firm forecasts sales in mobile application stores of about $29.5 billion by the end of 2013. The majority of downloads -- an estimated 82% -- are free to consumers.

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