US performance marketing agency Merkle has acquired Aquila Insight, one of the largest independent data analytics organisations in the UK with a team of over 60 statisticians and data scientists.

The buyout has been made to strengthen the agency’s predictive analytics service, with the London and Edinburgh-based firm’s media optimisation and CRM expertise helping to further cement the group’s expanding UK and European footprint.

According to Merkle’s president and CEO, David Williams, predictive analytics sits “at the heart” of the company’s growth strategy on this side of the Atlantic.

“The Aquila Insight team has a great approach to building, growing, and delivering impactful results for their clients through the use of sophisticated analytical methods,” he commented, adding the acquisition is “an important and exciting opportunity” to step up Merkle’s data leadership in Britain.

The move follows Merkle’s acquisition of Spanish analytics consultancy DIVISADERO, as well as buyouts of CRM specialist Comet and independent marketing solutions agency dbg last year. Merkle itself was acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network last summer.

Rebrand and merge

Following the acquisition, Aquila will be rebranded to Merkle|Aquila, forming part of the Maryland-headquartered company’s European operation led by Tim Berry, a former statistician who claimed to be “impressed” with the acquired group’s approach and abilities.

“There’s no doubt that with our combined staff and capabilities, this acquisition will have an immediate and material impact, not only on Merkle’s growth and client retention, but on the success of our collective European client base,” he added.

From Aquila’s perspective, the companies are a perfect match; Warwick Beresford-Jones – joint CEO and co-founder with John Brodie – believes they share similar viewpoints on data usage, “It feels like the perfect home for Aquila and our team to develop and grow,” he explained.

“We have huge aspirations to grow Aquila in the wider market and being part of Merkle will allow us to reach our potential. We are passionate about analytics driving actions, and being part of Merkle will put Aquila at the heart of the action,” Brodie added.

Following the move, Brodie and Beresford-Jones will maintain their positions at the forefront of Aquila’s leadership team, while its staff will merge with Merkle’s Europe employees, bringing total headcount to over 850.