Geary Buys Search Firm Fathom Online

Digital agency Geary Interactive has bought five-year-old Bay Area search firm Fathom Online for an undisclosed sum.

San Diego-based Geary specializes in Web development, media buying, and strategic planning services. The move brings it a step closer to full-service digital agency status.

CEO Andreas Roell said the acquisition was motivated by an understanding that “the search component is and will remain a significant chunk of the online marketing space.”

At the same time, Roell said, “Search can’t stand on its own anymore. You need to create search demand that comes out of things like banner online media planning and buying.”

Geary’s hunger for search expertise goes back roughly 18 months, during which time the firm had courted several agencies, Roell said. He added Fathom won out on the basis of talent and proprietary technology, dubbed by Roell “the marketing dashboard opportunity.” Fathom’s in-house technology includes a keyword modeling tool, Keyword Price Index, and a search analytics platform.

Fathom’s Steve Gillan will serve as CFO and managing director of Geary’s San Francisco office; Mihir Choudhary will be CTO and VP of engineering; and Jinenne Sutherland will serve as reach director. Fathom has roughly half the employees of its new parent, 22 to Geary’s approximately 42 staffers.

Fathom clients have included American Apparel and Planet Out; Geary has served WD-40 and M&T Bank.

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