360i Adds Site Conversion Tool

NEW YORK Digital agency 360i is eyeing an expanded role in helping clients convert leads it delivers to their Web sites with the help of its parent company’s acquisition of Netmining, a European site-side optimization company.

Innovation Interactive, the parent of 360i and search management specialist SearchIgnite, bought the 15-person company. Financial details of the purchase were not disclosed.

Netmining of Brussels, Belgium, provides technology used by clients like General Motors, Danone and BMW to determine which site visitors are most likely to make a purchase. The site owner can use the data to trigger offers or content designed to lead the visitor to ultimately making a purchase.

The impetus for the transaction was twofold, according to Will Margoliff, CEO of Innovation Interactive. It will give 360i and SearchIgnite an opportunity to expand their relationship with clients at a time when marketing results are prized, and the conversion data from Netmining can improve media buying at 360i and SearchIgnite’s bidding technology.

“In an economic downturn, if we can help marketers generate more conversions, there’s going to be a big opportunity for us in the value chain,” he said.

360i also expects to use Netmining as a springboard for international expansion. The digital shop plans to set up a London outpost early next year and work using Netmining’s 50 clients as a base to upsell 360i agency services.

With its current clients, 360i CEO Bryan Wiener sees the conversion tool as another service in demand from marketers. 360i’s roots are as a search-marketing firm. It has added social media and ad buying services. Clients are bound to be more results oriented in a downturn, Wiener said.

Spending more on advertising to lure potential customers can often be more expensive than converting the ones that already arrive at their site.

“It’s getting harder and harder for clients to convert users,” Wiener said. “They need more and more help in converting the users they have.”

The acquisition is the second by Innovation Interactive since management bought the company back from Livedoor in June 2007.

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Since then, it bought rich media applications developer i33 in March to add to 360i’s services offering. While it wants more capabilities in creative and at the site level, the shop has no desire to build deep site-building capabilities like Razorfish, Wiener said. This stands in contrast to the expansion approach taken by iCrossing, another search agency expanding its services, which bought site builder Proxicom in June 2007.