IPG Launches Mobile Agency Ansible

Interpublic and mobile technology firm Velti have created a new mobile marketing agency to serve the holding company’s agencies and clients.

Called Ansible, the joint venture will operate as a standalone unit under the IPG umbrella. Founding executives include CEO Vladimir Edelmen, previously chief executive at mobile marketing firm Soapbox Mobile, and President Larry Harris, who led interactive functions at IPG-owned Draftfcb and most recently oversaw IPG relations with Facebook.

Harris told ClickZ the firm will distinguish itself by integrating with campaigns in other media and communications channels, as well as on “test and learn” trials for clients not yet versed in marketing to handheld devices.

“Clients don’t want a standalone mobile capability,” he said. “They want you to be able to integrate with their other marketing providers,” for instance outdoor campaigns and tie-ins with events ranging from niche conferences to arena-style sporting venues.

To that end Ansible will offer a broad spectrum of mobile services, including creative, messaging, content development offerings, and media planning and buying. At launch, the firm will operate in North America, Asia and Europe, while “aspiring to a global footprint,” Harris said. Its initial staff will consist of 17 to 20 staffers in its New York headquarters.

Ansible will be housed under IPG’s recently formed Futures Marketing Group and will leverage the existing infrastructure and clientele of the holding company’s several-hundred agency units, which include global ad network McCann Erickson, The Martin Agency and R/GA in the U.S. and special events marketer Jack Morton in Hong Kong.

When it comes to mobile, the decision to build rather than buy is one a growing number of agency networks may face. Unlike the digital marketing M&A landscape over the past five or so years, relatively few wireless agencies have emerged or matured into attractive acquisition targets. One of those, Ipsh, was acquired by Omnicom in TK.

More common are purchases of ad networks. In May, AOL acquired Third Screen Media, and Microsoft picked up European ad network ScreenTonic, both for undisclosed sums.

IPG said it evaluated 40-plus mobile infrastructure partners before deciding to partner with Velti, which has offices in London, New York, Boston and Athens.

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