Google sells Performics search marketing business to Publicis

LONDON - Google has offloaded its Performics Search Marketing business to Publicis Groupe for an undisclosed sum.

Perrformics helps businesses improve the performance of their advertising by advising them on how to maximise their visibility on sites such as Google. It has over 130 search engine marketing clients, representing over 200 global brands.

Google acquired Performics as part of its acquisition of online advertising giant DoubleClick, and due to the conflict of interest, had been looking for a buyer ever since the DoubleClick deal was finalised.

Publicis intends to use Performics to strengthen its digital search offering and capitalise on the increasingly profitable search spending market.

The business will become part of Publicis' new umbrella digital unit VivaKi, which draws upon the digital capabilities of its agencies - Digitas, Starcom MediaVest, Zenith-Optimedia and Denuo.

Google, along with AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft, became partners of Vivaki in July this year. The partnership has been labelled the Audience on Demand Network and is aimed at boosting Vivaki's clients' ability to target online users.

The deal between Publicis and Google followed a partnership between the two announced in January to exchange staff with the aim of benefiting clients by pooling the companies' respective creative and technical know-how.

The companies' revealed at the time that they had been cooperating for over a year, but did not elaborate any further.

Publicis' stance of treating Google as a partner contrasts with the attitude expressed by WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell in April last year when he described the search giant as a "short-term friend and a long-term enemy".

Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive of Google, said: "Publicis Groupe has been a leader in the advertising industry for decades, and we believe Performics' growing business will benefit from being a part of it. We look forward to working with Performics as a partner."

Maurice Levy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, said: "The acquisition of Performics will position the Groupe for significant growth by delivering a broad portfolio of clients into our operations.

"Not only will this acquisition bring critical mass to Publicis Groupe's formidable search capabilities, but it will also enhance our affiliate marketing and overall performance marketing offering."

Founded in 1998, Performics has almost 200 people who are based at offices in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, London, Hamburg, Sydney, Singapore and Beijing.

It is expected the the deal will be completed in the third quarter of 2008.