CRM Agency Merkle Acquires Mobile Shop 5th Finger

Brings Merkle's Revenue From Mobile to More Than $10 Million

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The customer-relationship management agency Merkle has acquired San Francisco-based mobile shop 5th Finger.

With about 30 employees, 5th Finger specializes in mobile tools, as well as media and marketing for retail and pharmaceutical clients. Among its achievements is the development of a mobile platform called "RedShop" to create mobile websites and apps and tablet commerce, with differing products tailored to retail and the drug category. The shop was founded in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.

Including Merkle's existing mobile practice, which has 10 employees, the deal brings Merkle's total annual revenue from mobile above $10 million, according to Merkle VP-Chief Marketing Officer Craig Dempster.

Under the terms of the agreement, 5th Finger CEO Patrick Collins will also remain at the company. The shop will also get to retain its name within Merkle. The mobile shop counts retailers such as Safeway and JoS. A. Bank as clients, as well as GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer clients.

GSK is a current client and Pfizer is a former client of Merkle.

"Our intent is to extend [Fifth Finger] to other verticals Merkle has expertise in," Mr. Dempster said.

This is the third acquisition for Merkle in recent years. In February, it acquired New York-based Social Amp, a specialist in Facebook marketing, and, in 2011, search agency Impaqt. The company has also launched a display-ads trading desk in recent years.

The deals follow Merkle taking minority equity investment from Technology Crossover Ventures in 2010.

Merkle made $303 million in revenue last year, according to Ad Age DataCenter. It's the 24th-largest marketing-services company by revenue and is among the last privately-held big shops with a digital focus.

Still, Merkle isn't a direct competitor to other big digital shops, such as the recently-acquired AKQA or another similar shop currently on the block, LBi.

Merkle is the No. 9 CRM agency by global revenue and the only one in the top-10 not owned by a public company. Merkle makes $60 million in revenue from digital services, according to Ad Age DataCenter.

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