Ansira Completes Acquisition of CDK’s Digital Marketing Business

Ansira Completes Acquisition of CDK’s Digital Marketing Business

April 22, 2020 — Ansira Partners this morning announced it has finalized the purchase of CDK Global Digital Marketing Business and is renaming it Sincro. including all advertising solutions and website services.

The deal positions Ansira to expand its automotive business, specifically with General Motors, one of CDK’s top OEM clients. Ansira has had a long relationship with Honda, which last year, presented the agency with its annual Premier Partner award.

CDK’s website business took a hit last year when GM opened what had been a 15-year exclusive relationship to three other vendors, Dealer Inspire, DealerOn, and Dealer.com.

CDK placed its digital advertising and website business into a discontinued operations category last year following its announcement in July that it would begin a sales process for the division.

CDK (at the time it was ADP Dealer Services Group) acquired the website business in 2011 when it purchased The Cobalt Group, one of the early automotive Internet pioneers for more than $400 million.

Ansira announced in February it was acquiring the digital business from CDK.

Although there are few details about how the acquisition will impact Ansira’s automotive strategies, look for the agency to build solutions that better integrate the Tier One (OEM national branding) with Tier Two (regional advertising) and Tier Three (local dealerships) levels.

In our report in February, we wrote:

“It is an intriguing play because it places CDK’s digital marketing business with a company that understands the space and that has the resources to support it.

Even though the Cobalt acquisition proved to be lucrative for CDK through the years, it still seemed at times to be an awkward fit and never really reached its potential — partially due to an activist investor play in CDK from 2014 to 2017.

How the acquisition impacts the website business for GM dealers is unknown. But this is a play that goes far beyond websites and likely positions Ansira better against large global players such as Publicis which acquired Epsilon for $3.9 billion last July or IPG, which acquired Axciom in 2018 for $2.3 billion (a deal IPG is still trying to figure out).”

“Our top priority today is to help our customers navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and that immediate focus does not change,” says Jen Cole, president of Sincro, in a press release statement today.  “And we look forward to a strong future together with Ansira, partnering with our customers to deliver in-the-moment marketing that helps dealers maximize lifetime customer value, drive efficiency and performance across digital channels, and promote their brands, their way in their local markets.” 

Ansira, founded in 1919, is a global marketing agency focusing on integrating national and local marketing programs using data analytics.

The acquisition of CDK’s digital marketing business will be the fifth purchase for the St. Louis-based Ansira since private equity firm Advent International acquired it in 2016.

Advent, which raised $17.5 billion last year for its GPE IX Limited Partnership Fund, has acquired three companies (including CDK’s digital business) in the last three weeks.

It’s the third auto retail vendor acquisition since the country began shutting down in March because of COVID-19.

Yesterday, ACV Auctions announced the purchase of the Cincinnati-based ASI, an automotive inspection services company, from SGS Transportation Services.

Last week, Dealer Venom, a dealership website firm in Pittsburgh, PA, acquired the digital advertising and search engine marketing technology from WebKite.

TBR Vendor 2019 Vendor M&A Report

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