Publicis Groupe to pay $575m for US digital specialist Rosetta Marketing Group

Publicis Groupe is making its third big bet on digital in five years by agreeing to pay $575m for Princeton-based US digital outfit Rosetta Marketing Group.

Rosetta, founded in 1998, provides personality-based marketing services (analyzing the different brand choices consumers make across a wide spectrum of marketing channels) and offers direct marketing, telemarketing, sales training and media planning and buying services.

The company covers a wide range of industries including financial services, health care, telecommunications, media, and retail. Clients have included AstraZeneca, Bank of America, Procter & Gamble and Pfizer.

Rosetta, which turns over about $250m a year, follows PG’s purchases of Digitas for $1.3bn in 2006 and Razorfish from Microsoft for $530bn in 2009.

It will be rolled into PG’s VivaKi digital media arm and will continue to be run by founder and CEO Chris Kuenne.

PG CEO Maurice Levy said recently that he wanted digital to account for 35 per cent of its sales by 2013, up from 28 per cent in 2010.

Rosetta may well cost much more than the initial consideration of $575m as Chris Kue and his colleagues stand to collect a further payment if the company reaches targets for 2012 and 2013. But Levy clearly thinks such a high price (twice revenue plus a bit) is worth paying to strengthen PG’s position in digital.

Arguably Publicis is now by far the strongest of the big marcoms groups (WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic, Dentsu, Aegis and Havas being the others) in digital.

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