Two Pittsburgh marketing firms are joining forces in a bid to grow the local talent base.
Last week, Direct Online Marketing, an aptly named Pittsburgh-based digital marketing agency, announced that it had acquired C-leveled, another branding and marketing firm in the Steel City. The agency said the motivation for the acquisition was to bridge the gap between companies with marketing needs and the agencies that are there to support them across creative design, campaign launches, ROI measurement and more. All employees are expected to be retained in the acquisition.
Sixteen-year-old Direct Online Marketing’s basic operations involve increasing quality traffic to client websites, and then converting that traffic into new leads and sales, founder and President Justin Seibert told Technical.ly in an email. It specializes in tools like search engine optimization and advertising, social media advertising and marketing, analytics and conversion rate optimization. Some of its local clients include the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, SAE, Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh, though Seibert noted that Direct Online Marketing has worked with clients on every populated continent.
Since the pandemic began (and even a little before), the increased need for digital marketing services has led Direct Online Marketing to grow “at a fairly significant pace,” Seibert wrote.
Direct Online Marketing had an employee count of 14 at the start of 2020, and now has about 40 on board. Right now, all but two of its employees are based in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, though, Seibert wrote, “the vast majority are in Pittsburgh or surrounds and have our Bloomfield office as their primary office location.” The company is in the process of remodeling that space to adapt to a hybrid work model for its local employees.
Direct Online Marketing’s growth over the past couple of years had the company on the lookout for potential acquisition opportunities to add more talent and client services, Seibert said. C-leveled was a firm that his team had worked with over the past few years on shared projects, so there was already an awareness and appreciation for C-leveled’s skills across branding, design, web development and social media.
“Plus, because we worked on the same floor, we had gotten to know them personally and see shared values. I have the utmost respect for Denise [DeSimone, president and CEO of C-leveled] as a person and a professional,” Seibert told Technical.ly. “So when we started talking about our futures and were able to share our visions, it really felt like the proverbial match made in heaven.”
Though Pittsburgh is far from a marketing hub, this acquisition, and recent growth news from other advertising tech companies like CivicScience and AdSkate, indicates an increasing talent base for the industry here. It’s a sign that as the city’s core tech industry continues to boom across robotics, artificial intelligence and more, other sectors are cropping up to meet the support needs of all of those growing companies.
And while Seibert said this acquisition news is big for Direct Online Marketing’s clients, “as we’re able to provide a fuller service to impact their organizations through marketing,” he noted that it’s also a vote of confidence for the local economy.
“For Pittsburgh specifically, we’re excited to continue to contribute to our local and regional economy in increasing levels of impact,” he wrote. “We’re also providing a home for really talented, smart, curious, and hardworking marketers who want to work with clients around the world and engaged teammates who want to grow and do awesome things together.”
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-