August Spark Wants to Become a One-Stop Shop for Ecommerce Companies

Its led by the former CEO of Undertone

Melissa Lopez and JJ Bannasch are the former co-founders of Katana. BVAccel
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Michael Cassidy, the former CEO and chairman of ad-tech company Undertone, wants to create an agency that can do more than just build an online storefront.

First he used his firm, August Spark, to acquire BVAccel, a marketing agency dedicated to helping brands build up their online storefronts—and a Shopify Plus partner. Now, BVAccel is acquiring Katana, a media agency for an undisclosed sum. The vision behind the acquisition? Combining that ability with strategic and creative services to help ecommerce companies thrive online.

“Our original plan was to buy a bunch of separate companies and operate them independently,” Cassidy said. “We’re better suited to have one business and make it a lot bigger so we’re doing that all under BVA. We’re launching some new ones and we’re planning to buy new ones.”

By purchasing Katana, Cassidy wants to move companies away from employing several different agencies to using a single one. With Katana joining BVAccel, ecommerce companies can use a single agency to build a storefront and now use Katana’s services around paid search and programmatic.

Melissa Lopez, former CEO and co-founder of Katana and now president, marketing services at BVAccel, said the acquisition means Katana clients will still get the same services but now have access to strategic and creative services.

“We [now] have better access to designers, strategists, [and more] that are building the storefront in the ecommerce business,” Lopez said.

Cassidy likens the acquisition to building out a “mini Accenture model” and providing a service to direct-to-consumer brands that are growing but consist of “lean teams” who can’t necessarily address all the pains of managing a marketing stack.

“When you look into enterprise for Shopify+, on the tech side you have some more accomplished [companies] but when you think of the services side, it’s still pretty disparate,” Cassidy said. “That’s why we think there’s an opportunity to bring some of that stuff together.”

And while merchants in the Shopify ecosystem enjoy their array of partners they can pick and choose from, Cassidy said he’s not trying to diminish that but instead giving them a “better one.”

“Katana is a new generation marketing agency that is generally leading in what’s happening today which is using data to inform execution,” Cassidy said. “Most of the work they do is defining customer value and customer journey versus just doing a media plan.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.