October 22, 2013, 11:28 AM

Deloitte Digital acquires social media agency Banyan Branch

The consulting firm enhances its ability to use store, web and mobile data in marketing.

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Deloitte Digital, the branch of Deloitte Consulting LLP that covers e-commerce, mobile, social and digital marketing, has acquired social media agency Banyan Branch, the consultancy announced Monday. Banyan’s employees will join Deloitte Digital, the companies say. Deloitte did not say what it paid for Banyan.

“Social analytics gives [chief marketing officers] and business leaders the power to navigate huge amounts of data to identify market influencers,” says Mike Brinker, U.S. leader for Deloitte Digital and principal, Deloitte Consulting. “With Banyan Branch’s strong record of helping brands make sense of it all, we will bring actionable insights to our clients so they can genuinely connect with their audience.”

Deloitte decided to build out its social capabilities through an acquisition after its research revealed that social media would be “the single biggest disruptor to marketing in the next five years,” he adds.

Kasey Lobaugh, chief retail innovation officer at Deloitte Digital, says the consultancy projects that shoppers using mobile devices in stores will contribute to 19% of all U.S. retail, about $7 billion. “We’re in a big shift where digital comes into stores,” he says. “For us, Banyan is a major component of unleashing the value of digital capability on the in-store environment, not to mention e-commerce.”

Banyan Branch was founded in 2007, when “the iPhone had only been out for a few months, and Facebook was still a spunky little startup that wouldn’t break 100 million users for almost an entire year,” according to Deloitte, in a blog post about the news. The agency began with a focus on social media, later adding digital commerce and marketing services, says Alicia Hatch, Banyan Branch's senior vice president of business development.

“Social media and big data capabilities have completely transformed digital marketing in recent years,” she says. “Banyan Branch's data-driven approach to social media combined with the creative, business and technical resources of Deloitte Digital will set new standards for digital marketing.”

With the technical expertise of Deloitte, Banyan Branch aims to connect retail data from such areas as point-of-sale, customer relationship management and e-commerce to demonstrate the effect of social media campaigns, says Dave Hanley, principal at Banyan Branch. “In the end, if we’re not tying point-of-sale information, e-commerce sales, customer data and facts of all these interactions on social, then we’re really not driving, optimizing or capturing the value that we could,” he says.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at The Altimeter Group, says large digital consultancies like Deloitte and Accenture have begun buying up agencies so they can not only provide strategic services, but handle marketing and advertising on behalf of their retailer clients.

“With paid (advertising), owned (content) and earned (social) media converging into new forms of marketing, digital is a sector full of opportunities and opening up new forms of marketing that don't belong in traditional spheres of expertise,” she says. “There's a broad window of opportunity opening up, with many players scrambling to secure new positions and territories.”

Deloitte Consulting is a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP, which also provides accounting, tax and financial advisory services. 

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