Elite SEM's Next Act As Tinuiti

One of the largest independent North American performance and data-driven digital marketing agencies recently rebranded from a well-known name, Elite SEM, to something a little quirky: Tinuiti.

Tinuiti CEO Zach Morrison says the move is the result of 40% organic growth and several key acquisitions last year, including social marketing agency OrionCKB, CRM, email marketing and creative agency Email Aptitude, and Amazon-focused ecommerce agency CPC Strategy.

“We’re looking at 30% growth this year,” Morrison said.

Search engine marketing is less than 50% of Tinuiti’s business now, Morrison said, noting that channels like marketplaces, social, CRM, programmatic, email, and social are picking up the slack.  

Tinuiti, which manages about $1 billion in ad spend for companies such as Birchbox, DoorDash, Etsy, The Honest Company, and Terminix, specializes in paid search and social and marketplaces like Amazon as well as mobile apps, CRM, and email marketing.



Rebranding the name came with help from Madison Avenue firm Tipping Gardner.

When I asked him how to pronounce the name, Morrison said to think about the words “continuity” and “ingenuity.” Phonetically, it’s Ti-new-ity.

“It was an amazing, eye-opening experience in marketing and one that we will be able to learn from and bring back to our clients,” Morrison said. “In the four months we interviewed everyone internally, looking at our competitors, and looked at how we evolved, and then we got into the naming phase.”

It’s pretty simple to change the name of a company to a word you can find in a dictionary, he said, but “true creativity happens when you get out of your comfort zone because it allows me to tell you a story.”

I also asked if Tinuiti will branch out into other media channels. Morrison said he looks at what the services and clients need to grow their businesses, whether they are building new capabilities or partnering with others. Acquisitions are in the company’s future, but perhaps not in media such as traditional TV buys. The company already supports connected TV and video, and the marketing universe will be centered on digital.

Dalton Dorne, Tinuiti’s CMO, said the biggest challenge is for this “healthy business” to create awareness around the new name. “We rebranded around a position of strength,” Dalton said, and "now we need to transition the positive equity into the new name."  


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