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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Ian Goldsmith, Ed Featherston, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

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Merkle Acquires Search & Digital Marketing Agency, RKG

Merkle (www.merkleinc.com), a leading technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm and the nation’s largest privately-held agency, announced that it has acquired RKG (www.rimmkaufman.com), a leading search and digital marketing agency based in Charlottesville, Va.

This is Merkle’s second digital agency acquisition in 2014, demonstrating the company’s commitment to an aggressive growth strategy in scaling its own digital agency business, whose 2013 net revenue exceeded 2012 by greater than 43%. In the 2014 AdAge Agency Report, Advertising Age named Merkle|IMPAQT the 10th largest and fastest-growing search agency in the U.S. The report also listed RKG as one of the fastest-growing independent search agencies for the second consecutive year. Additionally, RKG works with more Internet Retailer Top 500® clients than any other search agency. The integration of RKG brings Merkle’s employee base to more than 2,400, with the addition of nearly 220 professionals to the company’s Digital Agency Group. The group now consists of more than 650 experts in digital strategy, creative, user experience, web/mobile development, media, search, email, and social. The combination of Merkle and RKG has created a truly scaled media agency, with estimated 2014 media billings in excess of $500 million.

Merkle was initially drawn to RKG because of its well-recognized digital marketing talent, its service-oriented approach, and its digital media capabilities used to create effective, data-driven solutions in pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), comparison shopping engine services (CSEs), display, and social. In addition, RKG’s deep expertise and penetration in retail and other key markets complements Merkle’s industry-focused approach.

“The acquisition of RKG supports Merkle’s dedication to helping world-class brands attain the Platform Marketer™ competencies they need to capitalize on the massive opportunity of addressability at scale, which has been brought about by the digital audience platforms,” said Craig Dempster, executive vice president and digital agency group leader for Merkle. “RKG represents the best of breed in search, display, social and other digital media marketing solutions, and we are delighted to have them join the Merkle family.”

RKG CEO, George Gallate, commented on the acquisition, “As a progressive performance-based team whose primary focus is fostering growth for our clients, we were honored to be approached by another high-growth, independent agency. Merkle is a proven leader in creating customer experiences that drive outstanding marketing performance in addressable media, and we’re proud to join its ranks. Our two companies also share a similar energy and passion for success, which are the makings of a perfect cultural fit.”

About RKG

Founded in 2003, RKG is a search and digital marketing agency that combines superior marketing talent with world-class digital media capabilities to create the industry’s most effective data-driven digital marketing solutions. RKG drives business to clients by maximizing a full range of opportunities including paid search, SEO, product listing ads, social media, display advertising and comparison shopping engine management services. A privately held company, RKG is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA with offices in Bend, OR and Boston, MA. For more information visit www.rimmkaufman.com or follow the company on Twitter @rimmkaufman.

About Merkle

Merkle, a technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm, is the nation’s largest privately-held agency. For more than 25 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. By combining a complete range of marketing, technical, analytical and creative disciplines, Merkle works with clients to design, execute and evaluate connected CRM programs. With more than 2,100 employees, the privately held corporation is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland with additional offices in Boston; Chicago; Denver; Hagerstown; Little Rock; London; Minneapolis; Montvale, NJ; Nanjing; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Shanghai. For more information, contact Merkle at 1-877-9-Merkle, visit www.merkleinc.com or follow the company on Twitter @MerkleCRM.

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