Merkle buys Metzner Schnieder, plans to open loyalty practice

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Database agency Merkle acquired loyalty consultancy Metzner Schneider Associates on March 22. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Merkle is planning to leverage the buy to build an in-house loyalty practice.

“We've been talking off and on with [Metzner Schnieder] for several months on partnerships, and the conversation eventually turned into, ‘We should formally unite,'” said Chris Crayner, SVP and chief strategy officer at Merkle. “While they have implemented lots of point-based programs, they really don't do that exclusively. They're much more of a customer relationship-oriented group of thinkers.”

Metzner Schnieder has worked with Sears, Marriott, Virgin America and Scholastic Publishing, among other clients. Crayner said that Metzner's efforts were mostly “high-end” in that the agency worked on technology and analytics rather than building internal teams.

“That's a competency that we have and are continuing to evolve, both on the analytic and technology side,” he said. “We're incorporating the core.”

Merkle will hire all seven employees from Metzner. Principals and founders Richard Metzner and Howard Schneider will become VPs of Merkle's enterprise strategy group, leading the new loyalty practice.

“There're no client conflicts, it's incremental to our business and it dovetails very well into what we're trying to grow in key verticals such as travel, entertainment and retail,” said Crayner.

The acquisition continues Merkle's aggressive growth strategy. In addition to its acquisition of CognitiveData, the company launched market research, mobile, healthcare and media buying units last year. The agency also named its first chief creative officer and CMO this year.

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