Brainlabs acquires SEO agency Distilled

SEO was missing piece in Brainlabs' business.

Gilbert: launched Brainlabs in 2012
Gilbert: launched Brainlabs in 2012

Brainlabs is acquiring specialist SEO agency Distilled as it aims to become a major advertising agency.

The independent performance media shop said the purchase would allow Brainlabs to offer SEO skills that it did not have until now. Brainlabs sold a minority stake to private equity last year and has ambitions to grow through acquisition and become "the biggest advertising agency in the world".

Distilled, founded by school friends Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris, describes itself as an "online marketing agency" with 60 staff working in offices in London, New York and Seattle.

As part of the deal, Distilled’s Optimisation Delivery Network, a test-and-learn technology product for SEO. will be spun out and become independent under the new name, SearchPilot.

According to a financial disclosure at Companies House, nine Distilled employees had share options prior to the acquisition. Critchlow and Morris owned the vast majority (over 80%), with the rest held by management and early employees.

Distilled styles itself as having a consultative approach to technical SEO and has established its own international conference, SearchLove, which runs in London, New York and San Diego.

Brainlabs, launched by founder and chief executive Daniel Gilbert in his parents' attic in 2012, has a vision to build an agency model without silos and departments, but with "brilliant teams centred around clients". Gilbert, who left Google to found the shop, wants to use a scientific and automation-led approach to disrupting the marketing industry.

Gilbert said: "I love Distilled and can’t wait to work with it. I’ve admired Will and his team for many years and genuinely believe that together we can deliver a more complete service for both our clients and help drive both businesses to another level."