Stagwell Group’s ForwardPMX Snapped Up Startup Headliner Labs to Help Clients Take Advantage of Buzzy Retail Tech

March 4, 2020

This article, by Patrick Coffee, originally appeared in Business Insider. 

Read an excerpt below:

  • ForwardPMX, a performance marketing agency that is part of Mark Penn’s Stagwell Group, acquired Headliner Labs, a startup that creates chatbots and voice-activated ecommerce tools.

  • Caroline Klatt and Dana Gibber founded Headliner Labs to meet growing demand for chat and voice products from retailers like Cole Haan and Sally Beauty.

  • As privacy laws and Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies take effect, marketers are looking for other ways to gather data and manage consumer relationships.

  • Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Headliner will immediately become part of the agency, which has about 1,000 people in 25 offices around the world.

Digital marketing agency ForwardPMX, part of former political advisor Mark Penn’s private equity-backed Stagwell Group, acquired Headliner Labs, a Silicon Alley startup that creates chatbots and other mobile commerce tools.

The acquisition is effective immediately. Terms were not disclosed.

Headliner Labs CEO Caroline Klatt and chief operating officer Dana Gibber, told Business Insider the deal came in response to increasing demands for AI chat and voice-enabled search options from major clients like Kenneth Cole, Saks Fifth Avenue, Cole Haan, Sally Beauty, and Paramount Pictures.

Gibber and Klatt, who used to lead strategy and operations at Fab.com, will lead ForwardPMX’s voice and chat practice, providing consulting services and helping build the products themselves.

As retail goes mobile, more clients want bots and other tech tools to drive sales and collect consumer data

Gibber and Klatt said they founded Headliner Labs after seeing an opportunity in consumers having conversational interactions with brands while on mobile devices.

The startup works across platforms including Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, WhatsApp and Snapchat. A ForwardPMX spokesperson said clients made about $50 million in revenue using Headliner Labs products in 2019.

As privacy laws take effect and tech giants like Apple and Google limit marketers’ ability to target ads, Klatt said brands would increasingly need to collect and own their customers’ data. She said chatbots are valuable to clients because, in addition to running automated direct marketing campaigns, they can collect data that will be increasingly relevant as cookies go away.

And Divya Gugnani, CEO of Wander Beauty, a Headliner Labs client, said conversion rates on direct marketing campaigns were three times higher than standard paid social media efforts in 2019.

Read the full story in Business Insider. 

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