Publicis Buys e-Commerce Firm Crown Partners
Publicis Groupe will be acquiring e-business consulting firm Crown Partners, continuing its move into the growing digital marketing space only less than two months after abandoning its $35 billion merger with fellow advertising giant Omnicom Group.
The acquisition of Crown, whose technology is used by enterprise clients to improve online customer experiences, will help Razorfish bolster its e-commerce business, a major focus point for the agency over the last few years.
According to research firm eMarketer, business-to-consumer e-commerce sales worldwide are expected to rise to $2.36 trillion in 2017. As mobile devices have transformed consumer behavior, brands have a greater need to manage customer experiences across multiple channels, Mr. Stein.
The digital shop lost part of its Microsoft account in late April and has seen a handful of top executives, including former Chief Executive Bob Lord, leave over the last year. Even so, Razorfish Global CEO Pete Stein maintains that “business is very healthy.”
“One of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the last five years is technology platforms are playing a bigger and bigger role in this transformation,” said Mr. Stein. “It can be a huge enabler in helping clients go to market differently but also transform the way they deliver products and services.”
As part of the deal, Crown will join Razorfish’s technology platform services. Crown and Razorfish both already have partnerships with hybris, an e-commerce platform owned by SAP, and Adobe.
Crown has more than 150 employees and counts Land’s End, Keurig-Green Mountain and GlaxoSmithKline as clients. The company has posted a 40% annualized revenue growth rate since it was founded in 2001, though Crown Chief Executive Richard Hearn said the firm is growing faster than that right now.
Mr. Hearn said technology has played a bigger part in front office operations to boost revenues in the last three to five years.
Publicis has built a strong presence in digital advertising in recent years through aggressive dealmaking, including its $530 million acquisition of Razorfish from Microsoft in 2009. While Publicis has bought a long list of digital ad firms, it has been ramping up its e-commerce buys.
Publicis acquired Beijing-based Longtuo in 2012 and Bangalore-based Neev in 2013, both of which became a part of Razorfish’s network.