London agency acquires "the AirBnb of Marketing" from Canada's Exact Media

Josh Peachey's picture

Today, Islington-based independent media agency, The Specialist Works, has bought Connections, a North America-based inserts and sampling marketplace. 

Over 170 retailers currently use the marketplace, including HelloFresh, booking.com, Harry’s, P&G, PepsiCo and SC Johnson.

The acquisition of Exact Media’s platform, Connections, is The Specialist Work's first major acquisition since the management team buyout of the agency in August 2018 

The move forms part of the long-term business growth strategy to expand into the North American market and positions the media agency as a global leader in transactional media marketing.

The Connections marketplace enables advertisers looking to acquire high volumes of new customers, to connect with retailers looking to monetize their eCommerce packages. The marketplace benefits direct-to-consumer and consumer-packaged-goods brands, who want to find retailers that will offer their customers special discounts or product samples.

The Specialist Works will build on the marketplace’s capabilities to augment its existing US offering that includes TV, print and digital media planning and buying alongside print management.

Connections investors Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos), Joshua Schachter (Founder of del.icio.us) and Rho Capital remain shareholders. Co-Founders Ray Cao and Daniel Rodic are departing the business but will remain as external advisors to the executive team.

Parry Jones, Chief Operating Officer, The Specialist Works, said: “We are constantly looking for new ways to help D2C and consumer packaged goods brands grow their businesses. 

"Described in Forbes as ‘the Airbnb of marketing’, advertising revenue comes with little or no additional operational cost and creates significant net profit for the retailer which can reach ten per cent of total net profit. The brands using the marketplace are exciting and we can’t wait to help them accelerate their growth.”

Ray Cao, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Exact Media, said: “We have long admired The Specialist Works for what they’ve been able to do as pioneers and global leaders in the inserts market. With The Specialist Works’ infrastructure and management team, we feel confident that Connections is now positioned for rapid expansion."