Merkle Acquires Digital Agency Axis41; Snapchat Continues Its Quest To Appease Advertisers

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Merkle Diversifies

Merkle acquired Axis41, a Salt Lake City-based digital agency focused on web and app design and customer experience. Axis41’s special partnership with Adobe’s Experience Manager was a main driver of the deal. (Dentsu-owned Merkle is a big Adobe shop with expertise in Adobe’s campaign and analytics platforms.) The acquisition also brings $25 million in revenue to Merkle’s “marketing cloud” practice and adds digital creative talent to its team of data and analytics experts. Read the release. The deal comes just days after Merkle won Time Warner’s $250 million media account.

Snapchat’s Menu

In the next chapter as Snapchat cozies up to advertisers, it will unlock new features and (slightly) lower prices, reports Digiday, which got access to a recent sales pitch. Snap to Unlock will allow users to take a snap to unlock a geofilter, but it’s only available to advertisers who spend at least $750,000 on ads each quarter. To entice (somewhat) smaller spenders, Snapchat is lowering its holiday-themed discover package to $25-$37 CPMs, down from the $40 CPM it was asking this summer. Snapchat is also creeping into sports TV territory. Super Bowl ads will go for $25,000, NBA packages for $95,000 to $4.5 million (!) and March Madness packages for $150,000 to $600,000. IPO, anyone? More.

Do EU Mind?

There’s no love lost between Silicon Valley and the European Union. On Thursday, Google formally rebutted the EU’s antitrust charges against its price comparison service, Google Shopping, and its ad placement product, AdSense. It’s been six years since Europe first started seriously scrutinizing Google. In a blog, Google general counsel Kent Walker declared that the EU’s accusations were factually, legally and economically baseless. “We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed,” Walker wrote. “On the contrary we improved it. That isn’t ‘favoring’ – that’s listening to our customers.” In the coming days, Google will respond to a third EU charge accusing it of using its Android OS to promote its own products at the expense of rivals. More at Reuters.

Facebook, M.D.

Pharma wants in on digital advertising, and Facebook wants to take it there. The $5.4 billion pharmaceutical ad industry has been slow to migrate to digital due to strict FDA regulations, Adweek reports. Pharma companies have been advertising on Facebook for some time, but some new features are questionable, Stat reports. Companies can now turn off comments on pages that promote drugs, a potential regulatory violation if those comments report side effects. “Pharma is as anxious to use social media as social media is to sell it to them,” said Bob Ehrlich, CEO of DTC Perspectives.

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