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History of a Performance Marketing Agency

A Foundation of Passion and Experience

While Merkle’s business model has evolved over the years, allowing us to become the nation's largest independent agency, one thing has remained constant: our dedication to providing our clients with world-class solutions for maximizing the value of their customer portfolios. As the marketplace has welcomed the advent of digital media touchpoints and more sophisticated analytical techniques, Merkle has continuously transformed to stay at the front of the customer relationship marketing pack. We offer integration of customer data in ways that allow our clients to utilize every aspect of customer engagement to enhance the value of their brands and make the most of resulting returns.

It all started when a small data processing company was purchased by a young visionary with big dreams of building a world-class service organization ...

In 1988, Merkle was acquired by a young entrepreneur named David Williams. At the age of 25, Williams already possessed a visionary leadership style; but even he never could’ve foreseen what technology had in store for the marketplace, and for Merkle as it evolved in to one of the leading performance marketing companies in the world.

Growth and expansion have always been watchwords — not only for Merkle’s own business ambitions, but even more importantly in terms of our clients. Merkle has reached its market-leading status through years of tenacious focus on organic growth, revered talent acquisition, and smart corporate acquisitions.

Merkle has earned its reputation as a valued partner to our clients by assembling an elite team of experts who share a passion for achieving greatness in their personal and professional lives.  Merkle has convened the most experienced multidisciplinary marketing experts in the country, who strive to achieve their best work in areas of strategic consulting, database services, content solutions, analytical services, interactive and creative services and production management services.

In addition to its human assets, Merkle has made a series of strategic acquisitions over the last 25 years; from software and technology providers to data and analytic companies to creative and mailing services. These assets have repeatedly built upon Merkle’s core strengths.

  • 2007: CognitiveDATA (customer data integration) 
  • 2009: Analytici (marketing technology)
  • 2011: IMPAQT (search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO))
  • 2011: Lenser (contact management solutions) 
  • 2012: Social Amp (Facebook Open Graph marketing) 
  • 2012: 5th Finger (technology-enabled mobile solutions, responsive web design) 
  • 2012: Brilig (digital data exchange for online advertising)
  • 2014: New Control (digital & direct agency)
  • 2014: RKG (digital & search agency)
  • 2014: 500Friends (loyalty solution provider)
  • 2015: Pointmarc (digital analytics consultancy)
  • 2015: Periscopix (London-based performance marketing agency)

The privately held company has now grown to be the nation’s largest and fastest growing independent customer relationship marketing agency. Companies that have come to rely on Merkle’s passion and expertise to drive results include many household names such as GEICO, Dell, Microsoft, Google, AARP, Kimberly-Clark, Under Armour, Nespresso, and American Heart Association. We are proud of the industry position we have earned, with Advertising Age 2015 Agency Report rankings in the following categories:

  • Largest independent agency in Digital, CRM/Data, and Search
  • 10th largest CRM/Direct Marketing Agency
  • 4th largest US Search Agency
  • 14th largest US Digital Agency Network 
  • Top US Agencies from All Disciplines: Number 20
  • Top 50 Agencies Worldwide: Number 23
  • Top 25 US Mobile Agencies: Number 13
  • Top 50 US Healthcare Agencies: Number 15
  • Fastest Growing Top 20 US Agency of Any Discipline

Merkle is constantly evolving its value proposition and expanding its core competencies in anticipation of marketplace changes. The company has experienced a compound annual growth rate of 25% over the past 25 years, with 2014 revenue of $382 million. With more than 2,900 employees, the corporation opened its Columbia headquarters in 2008, complemented by offices in Boston, Bend, OR, Charlottesville, VA, Chicago, Denver, Hagerstown, MD, King of Prussia, PA, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Montvale, NJ, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle and Shanghai and Nanjing, China.