Publisher Hearst Ready To Buy iCrossing

Venerable search marketing firm iCrossing is about to be acquired by publisher Hearst, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Under the deal, which is in the final stages of negotiations, iCrossing, one of the nation’s biggest independent digital-marketing shops, is likely to fetch about $375 million, plus bonus payments if it reaches certain targets, these people said.

The article goes on to discuss how publishers may be trying to take digital marketing in-house rather than relying as much on traditional agencies. And it says the deal could still fall apart.

A few years ago a number of SEM firms were acquired by larger advertising holding companies. For example, in 2004 iProspect was acquired by UK-based Aegis Group for a reported $50 million and in 2007 Reprise Media was bought by Interpublic Group.

There are many high profile search and digital agencies that remain independent. If the Hearst deal goes through it could trigger similar acquisitions by other publishers seeking to have more control over search/digital marketing in house.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing: General | SEM Industry: Acquisitions

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://searchquant.blogspot.com searchquant

    Over the past 8 years, during which time I’ve been selling SEM solutions (technology and agency services) to Google’s top 5000 customers, I’ve encountered iCrossing in a surprisingly low number of accounts. Given that my focus has been Google’s top spenders, I have to think iCrossing has had more success with brand advertisers on the one hand, and with their SEO business as opposed to paid search marketing.

    My $0.02.

  • JoshGrot

    Greg -

    So what’s your over/under on the successful integration of an advertising company like iCrossing into a publishing/content company like Hearst (assuming the deal goes through)?

    It seems to me that these “90 degree turns” in corporate business models seldom work out well.

    Can’t fault Hearst though for moving to shake up its business…if in fact that’s what it’s trying to do here.

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