Grey’s G2 Adds Digital Shop Refinery

NEW YORK G2 Worldwide said it has purchased interactive agency Refinery.

The Hatboro, Pa.-based agency becomes part of G2 Interactive, the digital arm of G2 Worldwide. G2 is a unit of Grey, which in turn is owned by WPP Group. Refinery offers site design, search marketing and analytics. The 12-year-old shop’s clients include Campbell’s, Merck and Merrill Lynch. It has 79 employees and generated $21.1 million in revenue in 2006.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Refinery will be integrated into G2 Interactive, which is led by president John Paulson. As a longtime site builder, Refinery brings to G2 Interactive technical chops it didn’t have, Paulson said. This has only grown in importance as technology acumen has become critical to digital initiatives, he added.

“I think now controlling the end-to-end delivery of the finished product is going to be more critical moving forward,” he said. “We’re selling in the ideas and have to stand by the experience of the end product. When you start third partying it, you end up losing control.”

Refinery is the latest in a string of independent digital shops to be scooped up, including large buys like Publicis’ acquisition of Digitas and Microsoft’s deal for aQuantive, as well as smaller deals such as Interpublic Group’s acquisition of Reprise Media.

“In a sense, it’s inevitable. If you look back, you see the same type of things happened with direct marketing, events and promotions agencies,” said Joe Celia, G2 Worldwide CEO. “As the big ad groups were looking to field more total offerings, they went into the marketplace and found these independent shops.”

G2 has added to its tech capabilities through acquisition in recent months.

In June, it bought Star Echo, a Chinese shop, and it has also added MDS Boole, an analytics firm in Spain.