Google sells Performics search-marketing unit to advertising giant Publicis

For a world accustomed to Google acquisitions, a sale by the company may actually come as a surprise. However, this sale itself is tied to a previous Google buyout – the online advertising major DoubleClick earlier this year.

Now, Google has decided to offload its Performics search-marketing unit, which had been part of the DoubleClick deal. Performics has nearly 200 employees, and has over 150 search engine marketing clients. The buyer is giant French advertising holding company Publicis. Terms of the deal were not disclosed; it is expected to close in the third quarter.

The sale was expected considering the conflict of interest Google found itself in - Performics advises clients on how to maximize their visibility on Google and other search engines. Google itself had admitted as much back in April. (See: Google clears last hurdle to acquire DoubleClick; Closes deal for $3.1 billion)

Publicis said it would take Performics and integrate it in with its VivaKi Nerve Center – an offering that brings together multiple ad and marketing services. The deal, which will close in the third quarter, gives Publicis more new media heft. Advertising firms are under pressure to meld interactive advertising plans with the traditional print and TV approaches.

Publicis, which owns advertising agencies including Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi - and thus handles work for clients like Visa and General Motors - recently reorganized. This was meant to help its four media-buying agencies offer clients more scale for digital ad placements, to allow the company to begin work on ad-exchange strategies, and to help it train its staff better in digital technologies.

''Publicis Groupe has been a leader in the advertising industry for decades, and we believe Performics' growing business will benefit from being part of it,'' said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google. ''We look forward to working with Performics as a partner.''

Maurice LÚvy, Chairman & CEO of Publicis Groupe, commented, ''The acquisition of Performics will position the Groupe for significant growth by delivering a broad portfolio of clients into our operations. Performics will also bring widely recognized talent and capabilities that can be embedded into the client teams inside Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia''.

''Not only will this acquisition bring critical mass to Publicis Groupe's formidable search capabilities, but it will also enhance our affiliate marketing and overall performance marketing offering,'' he added.