Revenue grew 2% to $92.1 million
“We’ll focus on people-based marketing. It’s not a statement. It’s a reality”
“The industry’s focus should be on the connected customer journey: informed by data, powered by technology, and driven by customer preference”
Of all the agencies in MM&M’s Top 100, none has been as active on the deal-making front as Merkle Health. Last August, Dentsu Aegis Network acquired a majority stake in the Merkle Group. In November, Merkle Group acquired Salt Lake City–based digital agency Axis41 and U.K.-based CRM agency Comet Global Consulting. This April, the group acquired Spanish data consultancy Divisadero.
Taken together, the deals allow Merkle Health to expand its footprint domestically and internationally. The Maryland-based company now has 17 dedicated offices in the U.S. and nine across Europe and Asia-Pacific. In addition, the Dentsu Aegis Network has 145 offices around the world.
The Dentsu Aegis deal in particular sends a message to agencies hoping to chip away at Merkle’s CRM dominance. “It gives us expanded breadth, exposure, and network access, and provides additional opportunities for new and existing clients,” says Mike Goldin, Merkle Health’s SVP and GM.
Goldin joined Merkle from Young & Rubicam Group in August, assuming the role previously held by Owen McCorry, who transitioned into a role as growth officer and leader of client management and marketing solutions.
Revenue was up 2%, from $90.4 million in 2015 to $92.1 million in 2016. Staff count spiked from 327 to 350.
Merkle enjoyed a similarly fruitful year on the new-business front. It increased its total number of clients from 76 to 102, with 42 of them AOR assignments. New business came from Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Cell Signaling Technology, and Dignity Health, while Merkle grew its relationship with longtime clients Sanofi-Aventis, AbbVie, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Humana, and Cigna. It lost a total of four accounts in 2016 from Allied Health Media, Gaiam, McKesson Specialty Health, and Nutrisystem.
Merkle also handled its share of high-profile work, partnering with Neos Therapeutics to launch Adzenys XR ODT for the treatment of ADHD. The drug is FDA-approved for patients 6 and older. Still, when asked about the agency’s future plans, Goldin doesn’t mention further expansion or goals specific to a type of client or therapeutic area. Rather, he focuses on the need to more effectively and efficiently reach patients.
“It’s really about focusing on people-based marketing. It’s about changing the way we reach people, the way we interact with them, and how we communicate with them based on their preferences,” he explains.
Expect Merkle to delve deeper into CRM strategy, especially now that consumers are sharing their personal preferences to receive real-time, targeted digital media. Via its proprietary in-house marketing technology, Merkle is better able to define a target audience’s omnichannel preferences, create the most cost-efficient communications, and deliver more optimized results to clients.
“In the past, it was a mass approach where you blasted a message to five million targets,” Goldin continues. “The data allows us to be smarter in our approach so that we’re able to provide the utmost relevance to our end customer.”
A previous version of the profile incorrectly included Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sunovion under lost accounts, based on a reporting error by the agency. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sunovion remain clients of Merkle Health.