Olson Becomes A Consultant, Acquires PulsePoint

A lot of ad shops talk of their desire to be consultants to their clients, suggesting that it's a closer relationship than mere agency vendor status. Minneapolis-based Olson actually became one today with its acquisition of consultant and market research outfit PulsePoint Group, which is based in Austin, where Olson also has an office.

The agency said the acquisition was designed to enhance its digital creative and executional capabilities.

The deal also pushes Olson’s total revenue past $100 million, with more than 70% of that revenue derived from digital and social-media work. That puts Olson in the top five independent agencies by digital revenue, according to merger and acquisitions advisory firm AdMedia Partners, which advised PulsePoint on the transaction.

The acquisition immediately provides Olson with well-regarded credentials in the management and digital consulting space, an area that agencies have been trying to enter more aggressively in recent years, as consultants like Accenture have entered the marketing and communications services sector.



“It’s critical for all of our offerings to be best alone, and even better together,” said John Partilla, who joined Olson as CEO earlier this year. “PulsePoint Group allows us to continue to deliver on that promise, and it brings tools and resources that will be valued by clients across our entire agency.”

PulsePoint, which is not related to the ad exchange of the same name, has also developed a database designed to help marketers develop and execute their social strategies, called the Social Media Accelerator.

In November PulsePoint struck an alliance with Starcom MediaVest Group. Under the terms of the deal, SMG is the only global agency that can offer PulsePoint’s Social Media Accelerator marketing tool to its clients. In return PulsePoint gets a fee and input from SMG on how clients are evolving social strategies.

An Olson rep said its acquisition of PulsePoint does not affect the deal with SMG. “This deal doesn’t change anything in that deal. Starcom remains a client of the Social Media Accelerator,” the rep said.

PulsePoint had been looking for a partner to help bring its strategic recommendations to life. “We take our clients through the strategy, work through change management, and then hand-off the execution,” said PulsePoint founding partner Jeff Hunt. “Now with Olson, our clients can access a world-class offering in mobile, social engagement, technology integration, execution and [Olson CRM practice] 1to1, which is something no other potential partnership presented.”

Olson clients include Target, General Mills, Best Buy and MillerCoors while PulsePoint clients include Toyota, Novartis and Delta Air Lines.

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