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Ansira Partners to Acquire CDK’s Digital Marketing Business

February 20, 2020 — Dealership technology firm CDK Global has signed an agreement to sell its website services and digital advertising assets to Ansira Partners, a subsidiary of Advent International.

The deal is expected to close in the next few months. Terms have not been disclosed as of yet.

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 Advent acquired it in 2016.

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

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.

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.

“We know that brands must reach customers in that ‘last mile’ to drive the greatest success, so it was clear to us that Ansira’s footprint in marketing services and their automotive industry expertise, coupled with the user-friendly platform of the Digital Marketing Business will provide an exceptional offering for our collective clients and their customers,” said Alan Herrick, an operating partner with Advent International and chairman of Ansira’s Board of Directors. “The acquisition will allow the CDK Digital Marketing Business to continue on its accelerated path of product and services innovation, as well as to deliver highly responsive and consistent customer service while enriching Ansira’s local marketing activation offerings.”

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).

The acquisition is the 10th transaction this year within the automotive retail vendor space, marking the most active start in recent history.

In other news, Ansira named Jay Dettling as CEO three weeks ago, recruiting him from Adobe Partners, where he served as vice president of global partners and was responsible for integrating Magento’s e-commerce platform with Marketo’s digital marketing automation software.

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