Advance has treaded deeply into agency territory over the years by doing creative work directly for brands, but this is the first agency it has acquired outright. "As the transition to a digitally-centered world continues, the demand for the services of pure-play digital agencies will only grow stronger," said Steve Newhouse, chairman of Advance.net, a division of Advance, in a statement.
Founded in 1996, Pop had 2012 revenue of $35 million servicing clients like Nike, Target, Microsoft and Toyota. It added 34 employees last year and now has 200 overall working in Seattle and San Jose, Costa Rica.
The firm specializes in making "interactive experiences for the desktop, mobile phones, tablets and digital environments."
Pop will continue to operate independently, as well as retain all of its employees. Advance will add three members to the company's board of directors. While Pop will continue to do traditional agency work, it will also act as a resource to Conde Nast as it transitions its storied print brands to digital."Pop and Advance see the opportunity to continue the transition they are in the process of making from a traditional media company to a digital media company," said Pop CEO and founder Bill Predmore. "One thing I hope we can do together is help them make that transition with the numerous brands in the family."
"As digital becomes an increasingly significant part of our business, the need for collaboration with thoughtful, forward-looking, digital-first thinkers is critical," said Bob Sauerberg, President of Condé Nast. "In Pop we will have a sister company with nearly two decades in the digital trenches, and we look forward to the many opportunities we'll have to work together."
Advance has made other acquisitions in digital media and marketing, but fewer and smaller ones than some of its competitors. Conde Nast's acquisition of Reddit in 2006 is perhaps the most prominent such deal. It has more often bought stakes in digital companies of various sorts, including Flite, whose technology lets marketers update ads to maximize performance with consumers while the campaigns are underway; Trigger Media, which aims to help entrepreneurs create other digital companies or products; and the fashion site Moda Operandi.
Some other publishers have more aggressively bought their way into digital agency services. Hearst bought the digital marketing firm iCrossing for $325 million in 2010, while Meredith has acquired a series of agencies including O'Grady Meyers and Genex.