IPG Buys Search Shop

NEW YORK Interpublic Group said it has closed a deal to acquire Reprise Media, a New York-based search marketing firm.

Reprise works on search advertising and optimization campaigns for clients such as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Microsoft and USA Today. While it has some direct client relationships, it often partners with other traditional and interactive agencies, including IPG shops Deutsch, Universal McCann and ID Media.

IPG said Reprise would continue to operate as a standalone entity led by founders Josh Stylman and Peter Hershberg.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The agency has 55 employees and also has offices in Boston and San Francisco.

Hershberg said Reprise spoke to several potential suitors but was attracted to IPG’s commitment to maintain its independence. “We all felt strongly that trying to fold our company into an existing company wouldn’t be successful,” he said. As for working with IPG, “It will allow more in the way of true integration,” Hershberg said.

The acquisition is the first for IPG’s Futures Marketing Group, launched in February under Bant Breen. Reprise will operate within the unit, which also manages the holding company’s investments in emerging platforms like Spot Runner and Facebook.

Reprise will serve as a search resource for IPG agencies that do not have deep expertise themselves, the holding company said. Search advertising now accounts for nearly half of all Internet ad spending.

“Search engine marketing is increasingly becoming a core component of fully integrated campaigns,” said IPG CEO Michael Roth, in a statement. “The pace at which marketing dollars will flow to emerging media that are accountable and cost efficient will continue to accelerate.”

Reprise is the first search specialist in IPG’s stable of agencies. Other holding companies had already acquired search shops: WPP bought Outrider in 2001, Aegis Group added iProspect in 2004 and Omnicom scooped up Resolution Media in 2005.