Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Weber expands again

From O'Dwyer's:

W2 GROUP EXPANDS ITS 'MARKETING ECOSYSTEM'

The W2 Group has acquired an investment stake in One to One Interactive because of its "next-gen web services orientation," Larry Weber, CEO and former head of Weber Shandwick, told O'Dwyer's.

The seven-year-old Boston-based firm has 55 staffers and revenues in the $8 million range, according to Ian Karnell, co-founder of the firm.

Karnell said OtO "hitched its wagon to W2 because of Weber's reputation as a marketing giant."

OtO provides e–mail/database marketing and behavioral segmentation services to the financial services, life sciences and technology/media telecommunications sectors. It has worked with Qualcomm, Unisys, State Street Bank, Novo Nordisk and GlaxoSmithKline.

Weber said OtO represents a leading-edge company in the "third stage of web evolution." The web, he said, evolved from building sites to e-commerce and search to creating community-based social networks.

OtO joins W2's "marketing ecosystem," which includes Racepoint Group (40 high-tech PR staffers), Digital Influence (seven people handling constituency management) and ThirdScreen Media (10 media management staffers).

The W2 family, according to Weber, is involved in "game-changing stuff," and targeting chief marketing officers who "understand the need to establish a dialog with their customer base." Weber said the future is about "two-way communications," and not just about buying 30-second spots, which is the "economic hang-up" of the traditional ad/PR holding companies.

Weber, who also headed Interpublic's advanced marketing services group, said more deals are in the works.

Larry Weber has been making some noise lately, recently leaving IPG to start the W2 Group, and now expanding it further into online marketing. He's taking PR to the next level, integrating it into online and wireless communications - blogs, SMS and other new forms of communications.

Now, why the hell he doesn't have a blog is a mystery.

I like the direction that he's taking with the company - in particular, what Third Screen Media is doing - but it also raises some concern in over-exposure and customer privacy. SMS needs to be opt-in, not pushed.

I think W2 is poised to really shake up the PR world, just as Voce Communications, Topaz Partners and POP! Public Relations when I get big enough :). It goes along what I have written about before - that PR is about reaching the public, and we need to use new avenues to reach that public.

Notice anything similar about all three companies? They're all alumni from Shandwick and Miller/Shandwick Technologies, the best damn PR firms that ever were. Remember, I'm looking for sponsors to go to the London Shandwick Reunion ...

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