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Dentsu buys Pune's Sokrati, rebrands Merkle India

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MUMBAI: Dentsu Aegis Network has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Sokrati, India’s leading data-driven performance marketing and analytics agency, launching Merkle in the country – the first launch of the global data-driven performance marketing agency in the Asia Pacific region.

The deal is expected to close this week.

Post-acquisition, Sokrati will be rebranded as Merkle Sokrati, further scaling Dentsu Aegis India’s data and performance marketing offering.

Founded in 2009, Sokrati is headquartered in Pune and employs a staff of 120 digital marketing professionals. The company develops its integrated marketing offering with the help of data analytics, CRM based marketing and the integration of offline data and hyperlocal marketing, with a focus on the automotive, telecommunications and banking and financial services sectors. It offers digital and performance marketing with deep specialisation in e-commerce, with service lines encompassing search and performance, social, retargeting, display and video production, and product ads.

Nick Waters, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, said: “India is the fastest growing large economy in the world. It is on track for 400 million smartphone users, making it second only to China, and has emerged as a major e-commerce market. Sokrati’s strength in mobile, e-commerce, data, analytics and performance media provides an ideal basis from which to launch Merkle in India as we develop the roll-out plan for Asia Pacific. We will develop the unique M1 addressable media platform for India as a next step.”

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, said: “Sokrati has strong ability in CRM and data to accelerate the launch of Merkle in India and further bolster our data practice, which is becoming increasingly critical in all aspects of our business. It will also give our clients added value as we bring CRM and data into the heart of our digital offering. With Dentsu Aegis Network India already being a leader in performance marketing services, with iProspect and the recent acquisition of SVG, the complementary addition of Sokrati will enable the network to take a clearly dominant position in the rapidly growing Indian digital advertising market. With Sokrati on board, we will now be more than twice the size of any of our competitors in search and performance. Out of 3,500 staff in India, about 1,500 will be digital professionals, and over 35% of our revenue – a market-leading statistic – will come from digital.”

Over the past four years, Sokrati was consecutively ranked Deloitte’s top 50 Technology Companies in India. In addition, it has won Google India awards, including Best Quality Accounts and Largest Increase in Overall Revenue, consecutively in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Zhengda Shen, President of Merkle Asia Pacific, said: “Given Sokrati’s strong credentials and proven capabilities in data & analytics, Sokrati will be in the ideal position to give strong footing to Merkle’s launch in the Indian market, in line with Merkle’s global growth strategy. India is strategic to Dentsu Aegis Network and is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.

“Sokrati’s data DNA, analytics-driven and performance approach to digital marketing make it a natural extension for Merkle into the Indian market. Furthermore, they are focused on expanding their CRM capabilities and connecting these capabilities across media and channels. Merkle is in a strong position to support this expansion and Sokrati’s ecommerce-heavy client base is data rich, innovative, and ready to benefit from Sokrati’s push into cross-channel marketing.”

The co-founders of Sokrati – Ashish Mehta, CEO, Anubhav Sonthalia, Enterprise Business Head, and Santosh Kumar Gannavarapu, Head of Innovations, will be joining the Dentsu Aegis Network leadership team in India. Anubhav Sonthalia will be the CEO of Merkle Sokrati and report to Vivek Bhargava, CEO of Performance, Dentsu Aegis Network India, and Zhengda Shen, President of Merkle Asia Pacific.

Anubhav Sonthalia, Co-Founder & Enterprise Business Head of Sokrati, said: “Our business is built on a highly data-driven culture, supported by the strong passion for digital and performance marketing from myself and two other founders – Ashish and Santosh. It is not often you meet amazing talent with the same drive and mindset, and we could not be more pleased to be joining forces with world-leading agency Merkle, as we expand our global footprint as part of Dentsu Aegis Network. It has been an incredible journey from the start, and we are all very excited about the next chapter for Sokrati.”

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