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Merkle Brand Strategy B2B

Dentsu’s Merkle acquires B2B agency Shift7

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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

March 7, 2023 | 5 min read

The agency, which partners with manufacturing and distribution companies, will support Merkle’s experience and commerce unit in the Americas.

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Dentsu became the exclusive owner of Merkle in 2020. / Adobe Stock

International advertising and PR firm Dentsu Group has acquired Shift7 Digital, a B2B agency which according to its website is focused on “revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers, distributors and their customers.” Shift7 will become a subsidiary of Merkle, an international media company and a crucial component of the Dentsu empire.

Founded in 2002, Shift7 positions itself as a company that helps its B2B partners to optimize marketing and sales operations by improving online customer experiences. The agency received financial backing from Salesforce Ventures (the tech company’s venture capital and private equity arm) in late 2021 and is currently a Salesforce Crest Partner (‘Crest’ being the third of four tiers that Salesforce has implemented into its consultant partnership program).

The agency will be incorporated into Merkle’s experience and commerce arm – launched last year and described by the company as “a global team of more than 2,500 experts across CX, technology, commerce, digital messaging, loyalty and promotions” in the Americas.

“In scaling Merkle’s experience and commerce practice, we are dedicated to making smart investments that not only deepen our capabilities in digitally enabled shopping and experience but also broaden our market reach into untapped areas of opportunity,” says Pete Stein, president of Merkle Americas.

“The acquisition of Shift7 demonstrates Merkle’s commitment to enabling B2B brands to deliver best-in-class, differentiated, and connected experiences across the entire customer journey.”

The deal also “aligns with Dentsu’s stated ambition of reaching 50% of the net revenue generated by its Customer Transformation & Technology (CT&T) group, which encompasses the fast-growth areas of customer experience and commerce,” Dentsu Group wrote in a press release.

The financial details of the acquisition have not yet been disclosed.

The announcement arrives during a commercially transformative period, as a growing number of retail brands continue to transition into the digital realm. According to a recent report from media and marketing data analytics company Comscore, online sales (not including travel) across the US reached a historic high in 2022 by surpassing $1tn. Merkle is clearly paying attention to the broader trend toward online retail and wants to ensure that it will have the infrastructure in place to build high-quality digital experiences for its clients.

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“Merkle’s commitment to the further development and enrichment of our Experience and Commerce practice is based on the belief that in the future, all digital experiences will be shoppable, and all shopping experiences will be digitally enabled,” Michael Komasinski, Merkle’s global CEO, said in a statement. “Shift7’s Salesforce Ventures backing, Crest Partner status, and stellar leadership in the manufacturing and distribution sectors will add strength, scale and specialty to Merkle. We are excited to welcome Shift7 into the Merkle Family.”

Dentsu acquired a majority stake in Merkle in 2016 and became the sole owner of the company in 2020.

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