Publicis Groupe Merges Digitas and LBi

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Geographic presence is at the heart of the merger.
Geographic presence is at the heart of the merger.

Publicis Groupe today announced the merging of its largest U.S. digital agency with its recently acquired European digital shop to form DigitasLBi. The Paris-based holding company aims to fashion the combined entity into what it calls “the most complete digital agency network in the world.”

“Most clients right now are looking for global-scale players. ‘Geographic presence' is the first checkmark you see on agency RFPs,” says Bob Lord, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Digital Technology Division. “LBi brings clients to the party that form an international perspective, including Coke and Johnson & Johnson.”

According to Publicis, the DigitasLBi will comprise some 5,700 digital marketing and technology experts in 25 countries, providing clients with a range of services including analytics, performance marketing, e-commerce, mobile, search, CRM, and social media.

“The second checkmark on the RFP is ‘What kind of tech do you have?'”  adds Lord, who is particularly optimistic about how LBi's Audience Engagement Platform will  improve the technology infrastructure of the agency when merged with Digitas's CRM365 Intelligence platform. “It's a proprietary piece of technology that can line up media data and CRM data and allow marketers to do retargeting and more advanced delivery of real-time relationship marketing,” he says.

The merged partners combine other complementary strengths. While Digitas's strong suit is in integrated programs with roots in CRM and connected commerce, LBi has a history of achievement in service innovation and multichannel delivery. Both agencies have received acclaim for their recent efforts . Digitas won two Cannes Lions Grand Prix last year and LBi copped the SXSW People's Choice Award.

Publicis purchased LBi last year for a reported $540 million. Digitas was acquired by the holding company six years ago for $1.3 billion. LBi's Chief Executive Luke Taylor has been tapped to serve as DigitasLBi's Global CEO, reporting to Bob Lord.

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