Razorfish, Omnicom Heavyweights Make The Leap To Merkle

MerkleDuoMerkle is bulking up in the talent department.

The CRM agency snagged Razorfish COO Michael Komasinski to serve in a similar role within its digital agency services group, along with Gerry Bavaro, outgoing chief strategy officer for Omnicom’s Resolution Media, to serve as SVP of its enterprise solutions group.

Merkle’s revenue grew 20% to $382 million in 2014, with approximately $1 billion in client billings. The agency, whose historic specialty was database marketing and services, has been on a digital deal streak, acquiring advanced marketing analytics consultancy Pointmarc in April following an acquisition of RKG last summer.

The agency now employs 650-plus people in the Digital Agency Services group and 800 in the marketing technology division. (Enterprise solutions sits within the mar-tech group.)

Komasinksi, who was in charge of business performance for Publicis Groupe’s $400 million Razorfish unit, will help manage the integration process for Merkle’s digital agency acquisitions and build an operational framework for the group.

In his new role, Bavaro will focus on helping Merkle’s marketer clients flesh out their technology and data supply chains.

“[The enterprise solutions] group is the foundation of customer data management, customer data analytics, measurement and effectiveness for when you serve an ad or create a specific piece of content,” Bavaro said. “Every marketer … [needs more] audience data around the planning function, and more effective execution of content and media as a result of that.” 

In its ongoing transition from database marketing to media, Merke’s ultimate goal of becoming what it calls an “addressable agency of the future” is contingent upon its data-driven push.

“We’re sort of our own DMP,” said Bavaro, referencing Merkle’s data platform, which he claims encompasses 200 million US households. “We’re essentially a competitor to Acxiom and Datalogix, and then we layer in solutions on top, whether it’s [data] matching with publishers or building measurement for clients who want to go beyond the cookie and know who they’re reaching in-app.”

Bavaro, who helped Resolution obtain Facebook’s prestigious media-buying certification stamp of approval, and who, similarly, test-drove an early Salesforce.com-Datalogix alliance, said he believes advanced customer segmentation and data matching is the path forward for marketers.

He also pointed to Facebook’s development of Custom Audiences and audience-based ad server Atlas – Merkle, along with Omnicom, were among agencies with first access – as evidence of the industry’s drive toward data-driven advertising.

“Everything is moving to this de facto standard, which is platforms will be used for planning and buying media and the ability to reach a person across all devices is becoming a standard,” he said. “Everyone is trying to break the traditional agency model and [with Michael and I] walking into Merkle, it’s kind of fun to bring a different [point of view].”

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