Hearst to buy iCrossing. Good for Hearst, bad for icrossing (apart from managers)

Marco Bertozzi 20.04.10
I understand why they would. What a great short cut to getting loads of digital knowledge into a business that has been slow to embrace digital, like all media companies they resisted moving from their traditional and core ad models until they could wait no longer. Magazines have been particularly bad at this in the main and have always been playing catch up to some extent.

Read the PR coverage here

Now as the agency world starts to move into Ad exchanges, putting the decision as to what is valuable inventory or not back in their hands and social media and search becomes more and more complicated Hearst has decided that they should buy a big digital independent agency, nice work. It’s a good move for them and it’s an even better move for those who have substantial shares in iCrossing but for the rest of the people there I am not sure what it means for them.

The history of media companies buying agencies is not great and rarely ends well for the people in the agencies, you become second class citizens to the brands you serve. How independent are you exactly? Will iCrossing start to be a digital department of the media group with regular schedule lines being Hearst properties? What about if you just become an internal department of the company, like an IT help desk to answer questions, solve ongoing problems the brands have in digitising. I am sure they will do a great SEO job on Hearst and perhaps provide a search strategy, Hearst still needs to create decent sites with decent content.

I am not sure I like the sound of it, I am possibly not seeing all the facts but if Hearst spends 375m on the agency, they are not going to let it live happily, bumbling along on its own, there will be some significant impact on the staff there.

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