Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com) reached an agreement to acquire iCrossing (www.icrossing.com), one of the largest independent digital marketing services providers in the world. The announcement was made by Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Vice Chairman and CEO, Hearst Corporation, and Don Scales, President and CEO, iCrossing. Mr. Scales, and all key members of iCrossing’s management, will continue in their present roles following the transaction’s close, which is subject to regulatory review, as well as other customary conditions. Financial details were not disclosed.
JEGI CLARITY (www.jegiclarity.com), the premier independent investment banking firm for the media, information, marketing services and technology sectors, initiated this transaction and acted as Hearst’s exclusive financial advisor.
The acquisition gives Hearst extensive global digital marketing capabilities, including paid search, search engine optimization, Web development, mobile and social marketing, and data analytics. iCrossing works with leading companies, such as Bank of America, Toyota, Travelocity, and The Coca‐Cola Company, to help them connect with customers via digital platforms and increase search effectiveness and consumer engagement. iCrossing will continue to work with and grow its client base, while simultaneously collaborating with other Hearst divisions to bring clients and consumers new and innovative solutions.
Mr. Bennack said, “Search and online marketing expertise will be an important asset for us as we continue to look for new ways to reach key audiences through digital marketing for our brands and our clients. iCrossing has built a great business and has consistently been recognized as a leader in its field; its strong relationships with top brands and companies are a perfect complement to our own. We plan to effectively bolster iCrossing’s strengths with future investments that add complementary capabilities and services, and expect this new line of business to grow very well for Hearst.”
Global interactive, or digital, marketing spending in 2009 was estimated at $25 billion according to Forrester Research. iCrossing is consistently ranked by Advertising Age, Forrester and OMMA Magazine as the leader in search marketing services. “Aligning with Hearst means a sharing of consumer insights, content, channel expertise and technology that will result in totally new approaches to both digital and integrated marketing for advertisers,” Mr. Scales said. “iCrossing has always been about staying in front of the market. Hearst, with its leadership in brand building, content creation and distribution is the perfect partner to fuel our continued growth.”
Matthew Petersen, Senior Vice President of Hearst Magazines, will head a new line of business, Hearst Marketing Services, which will include oversight of iCrossing. “Connecting with consumers online, on mobile devices and through search and social marketing, is becoming more and more essential to our business,” Mr. Petersen said. “iCrossing has proven itself to be one of the best at creating compelling, branded online experiences. We see tremendous opportunities across Hearst to leverage these skills in innovative and relevant ways for our brands and clients, which will be valuable for all involved. I look forward to working with Don and his superb team to expand the footprint of iCrossing and learning from his vast knowledge in this sector. He’s done a fantastic job growing this company.”
Mr. Petersen joined Hearst in March from Meredith Corporation, where he served as Senior Vice President of Meredith Integrated Marketing. There, Petersen was a key leader in transforming the department from simply the custom‐publishing arm of Meredith to a turn‐key marketing services provider. A large part of his responsibility was the oversight and integration of companies acquired by Meredith, including O’Grady Meyers, GENEX, New Media Strategies and Big Communications.
When Hearst opted to broaden the products and services we offer to more fully capitalize on the growing digital marketing needs and opportunities of our clients, our company’s brands and advertisers, we turned to JEGI CLARITY to help us with this endeavor. JEGI CLARITY exceeded our expectations and assisted us in targeting iCrossing as one of a number of viable acquisition candidates in the interactive marketing services and technology spaces. Throughout the process that followed, JEGI CLARITY’s combination of skills, including its deep market knowledge and overall M&A acumen, were hugely helpful in successfully completing this transaction. Our thanks to the entire JEGI CLARITY team for an exceptional job.
John Loughlin, EVP & General Manager, Hearst Magazine Group