Consulting giant Accenture is investing $71 million in U.K. new media agency AKQA, enabling AKQA to merge with three other new media and advertising companies and begin building a global new media network under the AKQA name. The companies are Citron Haligman Bedecarre, a San Francisco ad agency claiming billings of $300 million, whose clients include Palm; U.S. Web developer Magnet Interactive; and a Singapore-based new media company called The AdInc. A deal involving Citron, Accenture and a new-media company had been expected (AA, Jan. 22).
AKQA's chairman-CEO Ahmed Ajaz, 27, who founded the company in 1994, said he will continue as chairman and take on the new role of chief marketing officer of AKQA. Rick Hadala, a former McKinsey & Co. consultant who has worked at Saatchi & Saatchi-owned Darwin Digital, joins as CEO.
The deal gives AKQA offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia. "The plan is to grow and add capability," Mr. Ahmed said. One of the next steps will be a New York office. In Europe, AKQA already works with multinational marketers including Nike, BMW and Energizer Co. Accenture will work with AKQA as a partner for digital communications and marketing. The deal will be formally announced this week.
Comet Systems launches
enhanced Smart Cursors
Comet Systems today unveils Smart Cursors. An outgrowth of Comet's Comet Cursor software, Smart Cursors allow Web surfers to click on a word on any Web page and gain more information about a word or term. The software is available at smartcursors.com. Once installed, users can select an Encyclopedia Cursor with definitions from Britannica.com; a Dictionary Cursor, which pulls from Houghton-Mifflin titles like the American Heritage dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus; and a Search Cursor, which links to Yahoo!, Google, AOL.com and other search sites.
Comet Systems has created cursors for clients including BellSouth, Sony Pictures Entertainment and United Media. Its branded cursors reach about 21 million unique users.
Engage unveils service for cross-media campaigns
CMGI's ad management company Engage today launches a suite of software products that helps marketers and publishers manage Internet and offline ad campaigns, improve customer retention and increase revenue for publishers. The product line reflects integration of MediaBridge, acquired last year, and Engage Media Network.