Merkle Acquires Comet, Uses Real-Time Data To Influence Behavior

Merkle announced Wednesday its seventh acquisition in two years. The company bought U.K.-based Comet to strengthen its place in real-time performance marketing. The company uses CRM and other data to reach customers during the moments that most influence behavior.

This is the third and largest European acquisition in less than a year, and the first with an established global footprint. It follows the 2015 acquisition of London-based performance marketing and programmatic agency Periscopix and most recently, the acquisition of DBG, a UK-based marketing agency. "We will continue to build on a strategic offering focused on customer strategy," said George Gallate, Merkle EVP and CMO. 

Partnerships with CRM software providers such as Pegasystems, IBM, and SAS allow Comet to implement advanced marketing automation capabilities for clients.

Comet's technology provides data that allows company reps in service centers to make strategic customer service decisions in real-time -- or if online digitally, serve information that could change the course of the transaction. The technology responds, calculating CRM data that takes into consideration the lifetime value of customer before taking the next step.



The company's team of more than 300 experts, led by Sam Taverner, Iain Levein, and Paul Skinner, will join Merkle’s Marketing Solutions Group, bringing the total number of European employees to about 500 and more than 3,400 worldwide.

"We're also continuing to build out Asian presence through a relationship with Baidu," China's largest search engine, Gallate said.

For now, Comet's U.S. business makes up about 40% of worldwide revenue, the remainder contributed by the U.K., and Spain, he said.

The two companies -- which worked as partners prior to the acquisition -- have common clients, such as Fifth Third Bank, and DirecTV. Telefonica 02, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Life, and Sky TV are among the new clients Merkle gains.

With the seven acquisitions, Merkle has increased revenue by nearly 20%, strengthening its offerings in digital marketing and analytics, search and marketing automation. These acquisitions also helped Merkle develop strong industry partnerships, most notably with Google, Facebook and Oracle. 

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