Sorrell eyes Amazon opportunity as WPP buys Marketplace Ignition

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Eric Heller, founder of Marketplace Ignition
Eric Heller, founder of Marketplace Ignition

WPP-owned Possible has acquired Marketplace Ignition, an e-commerce agency focused on advising clients on how to grow their business on Amazon and other online marketplaces.

In WPP's fourth-quarter earnings call WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell confessed that it was not his three-month-old daughter that kept him up at nights, it was Amazon. 

By acquiring Marketplace Ignition, the advertising kingpin is evidently hoping to get a foothold in Amazon's growing empire.

Our clients are increasingly asking us for Amazon expertise and for Possible to be that one agency to help them solve for all things Amazon," Shane Atchison, global chief executive of Possible, said. 

Possible declined to disclose the terms of the deal. 

Founded in 2011 by ex-Amazon senior executive Eric Heller, Marketplace Ignition works with more than 400 brands including Hallmark Cards, Lifetime Brands and Reynolds Consumer Products. 

After the acquisition is completed, the agency will be renamed to Marketplace Ignition, A Possible Commerce Agency and will be led by Heller. 

Possible's approach to data is part of what convinced Heller that the deal would "take the organization to the next level." "Possible understands the future of retail and the potential that brands have on Amazon, but Shane and the team also know it requires deep knowledge of the entire Amazon platform and its ecosystem to succeed," Heller said. 

Marketplace Ignition employs around 35 people and is based in Atlanta with an office in Seattle. It specializes in operational marketing and advises clients on all aspects of e-commerce from sales strategy to pricing and promotion. 

This acquisition is part of WPP's strategy of focusing on technology, data and content as a means of differentiating the group's offering to clients, said a statement from the group.