NEW YORK Independent digital agency 360i continues to evolve from its search marketing roots by purchasing Web design and applications builder i33 Communications.
I33 is a 40-person, New York-based shop with clients such as Adidas, PBS and Target. It will join 360i's existing resources to form the agency's digital development unit, retaining the i33 name.
"This is less about Web development and much more about executing marketing campaigns and being able to build portable and shareable applications and bring our marketers to where consumers are hanging out in a way that's measurable," said Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
360i, which now has over 200 employees, has been building itself into a full-service digital agency. In addition to search marketing and optimization, 360i offers media planning and buying, social media outreach and site and application development. It was recently named lead digital shop for Borders, an assignment that includes work across search, display and emerging media. (I33 also counts Borders as a client.)
The shop is not alone in its ambitions to use search as a foundation to grow into a breed of digital agency. Private equity-backed iCrossing has made several acquisitions in the past two years to fill out its profile as a full-service shop, adding Web development specialist Proxicom last July.
360i will not follow that path, however, preferring organic growth to buying capabilities, Wiener said.
360i and i33 have worked together on prior projects, which made them comfortable with the fit, he said. I33's focus on measurable results was also attractive, he added.
"The design shop of the future has more developers than artists," he said. "That's the structure i33 has. It's not about pretty pictures. It's about creating applications that tie into the social graph."