Leger buys Ressac to move beyond consumer insight and into media

Leading Canadian market research firm Leger has made a move to enhance its “performance” through the acquisition of Montreal-based digital performance marketing agency Ressac.

The deal gives Leger new capabilities that extend beyond its traditional domain of market and consumer research to the execution of digital campaigns. Together, the two say they will be able to offer marketers “more effective custom digital campaigns by improving customer segmentation, optimizing advertising messages and prioritizing the best platforms.” In a release announcing the deal Thursday, Leger said the acquisition supports its “digital shift.'”

“Over time, we have developed unique research performance metrics,” said president Jean-Marc Léger (left in photo) in the release. “Our ambition now is to revolutionize the digital marketplace by optimizing campaign performance on an ongoing basis.”

The performance marketing capabilities listed on the Ressac website include media strategy and planning; deployment of performance-driven campaigns; trading desk (DV 360, App Nexus); audience management; creative asset production; and multivariate testing. Ressac also offers digital business consulting, content strategy and development, social media management, analytics and digital production.

According to La Presse, Ressac has 30 employees and annual turnover of $2.7 million. Leger also told La Presse that the plan is to expand Ressac across Canada and eventually into the U.S.

The deal comes as the digital marketing system responds to heightened consumer privacy protections—including Google’s decision to eliminate third-party cookies, and Apple’s new privacy management feature. First-party data and consumer insights have become more valuable, forcing the traditional media players to respond.

“Our clients will benefit from integrated expertise that is unparalleled in the country to optimize their marketing investments, at a time when data synergy will play a crucial role in the performance and success of their campaigns,” said Ressac president Pablo Stevenson (right in photo) in the release. Ressac will retain its brand and current team, including Stevenson as president.

On its site, Ressac provided a lengthy explanation for the deal and its potential for clients: “We’ve got the resources and expertise to create a targeted demographic profile in real-time, integrate a solution into your business practices, and support your digital transformation journey,” it said.

This deal is about marketers being able to implement research-based recommendations, explained one industry expert.

Leger has had the ability to provide clients with consumer insights and recommendations, and can now activate a buy around those insights rather than enlisting a media agency to do it for them, said Kevin Keane, founder and CEO of Brainsights, a technology-based market research firm that focuses on biometric, or subconscious, consumer reactions.

“Marketers are increasingly looking for the activation of research insights. And I think that Leger, with the acquisition of Ressac, is moving in that direction,” he said.

“Some might cry conflict—a marketing measurement firm buying a marketing agency—but if they can stick-handle this, I think it’s a smart move.”

The tools for digital buying have become almost commoditized, and consumer insights are the differentiator, said Keane. Leger’s traditional strength is in those consumer insights, but now it has some of the tools to execute a buy—just like the media agencies.

“It’s a little bit of a shot across the bow for digital agencies.”

David Brown