Isobar Acquires Molecular for $31.5M

U.K.-based holding company Aegis Group expanded its U.S. footprint with the acquisition of Watertown, Mass.-based Web development and consulting firm Molecular.

The deal, valued at $31.5 million, brings Molecular’s transactional Web site design and consulting operations under the Isobar network umbrella, alongside Carat Interactive, Freestyle, and SEM firm iProspect, acquired in December. This is Isobar’s eleventh acquisition globally in the past 10 months.

“The Web site is a place that can deliver a brand experience. In the same way that a consumer interacts with a company or a product in the offline buying experience, the next best thing is to visit the Web site and have an experience there. It is critical that companies that do marketing can deliver on that capability,” said Sarah Fay, president of Isobar U.S.

While iProspect, Carat Interactive and Freestyle focus on generating leads and acquisitions through marketing programs, a key part of the consumer experience that remained outside Isobar’s control was the client’s Web site itself.

“If you want to offer best-in-class service, you have to be sure that the Web site user’s experience is the best it can possibly be. Molecular has a deep capability in building transactional Web sites and in consulting on how Web sites should be designed and built,” Fay said.

Molecular, in turn, found its customers asking for help with marketing services to drive traffic to the sites Molecular built, said Molecular’s CEO Ralph Folz. “We think this is a great fit on both sides. People are going to stand up and take notice of this, and we’re going to lead the way in terms of combining marketing services with some deeper technology,” he said. “We think everyone else is going to play catch-up from here.”

Molecular will continue to operate as a standalone business, while exploring ways to work with other group agencies to cross-market to Carat Interactive, Freestyle or iProspect clients.

“The Isobar strategy is to create synergistic service offerings — that’s my whole reason for being,” Fay said. “There are many doors that clients can come to us through, and there are lots of ways to expand the offering once they do.”

That Molecular is located in the same town as Isobar agencies iProspect, itself a stone’s throw from Carat Interactive and Isobar’s Boston headquarters, was serendipitous, but not central to Isobar’s decision, according to Fay.

“We combed the country to find the right agency that would fit our needs. The fact that Molecular is nearby is nice, but frankly, there aren’t a whole lot of independents left that have the size and capabilities we were looking for,” she said.

Molecular, an 11 year-old company with 120 employees, counts among its clients HP, JP Morgan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass., Talbot’s and The TJX Companies. Its services include business process and digital strategy, Internet development and implementation, user experience design/redesign, multi-site integration and multi-channel integration consulting.

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