PE-backed Elite SEM buys CPC Strategy

Elite SEM, which is backed by Mountaingate Capital, has acquired San Diego-based CPC Strategy, a retail-focused digital marketing agency. No financial terms were disclosed.


NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Award-winning digital marketing agency Elite SEM announced that it has acquired CPC Strategy, the San Diego-based agency known for its expertise in retail, ecommerce, and specifically the Amazon channel, where it expects to derive more than half of its revenue in 2018. The combination with CPC Strategy adds critical scale to Elite’s rapidly growing Amazon practice, bolsters the depth of its expertise in search and social, and also delivers a powerful technology asset in CPC Strategy’s proprietary CAPx media and bid optimization platform.

CPC Strategy, with a team of over 125 employees, works with both brands and sellers and provides services including strategy and advisory, media planning and placement, creative and content services, and data and analytics. Clients include Pfizer, Reef, Guthy Renker, The Honest Company, Hallmark, Nestle, Comvita, Riddell, Unilever’s Seventh Generation, and Nutrisystem, as well as many Amazon-only sellers.

“The acquisition of CPC Strategy is our response to the escalating demand from Elite’s most successful clients for strategy and execution in the Amazon marketplace, including its media offerings, creative services, and analytics, and the integration of Amazon with other performance media channels. More than a year ago we set out on a mission to find a solution at scale to meet this demand, and no alternative came close to CPC Strategy,” said Zach Morrison, President, Elite SEM. “We’re thrilled to welcome an outstanding team of true digital media thought leaders to the Elite partnership.”

The combined entity will have approximately 500 performance media specialists, integrated media strategists, and data scientists. Both companies have a deep commitment to creating the best possible work environment, based on meritocracy, resulting in superior client service and retention. The acquisition follows Elite SEM’s ‘Experts Only’ operating model, which maintains and develops specialization around each practice area while bringing a holistic approach to clients through Integrated Media Strategy and Marketing Science.

“For our clients and for our dedicated team members, the benefits of joining forces with one of the most respected and successful agencies in our space were very convincing. We are aligned strategically and extremely motivated to continue to build innovative solutions that drive improved client results through digital media with our new partners at Elite and also Mountaingate Capital,” said Rick Backus, CEO of CPC Strategy. “Together we have one of the strongest, most experienced, and most tenured management benches in the performance marketing industry and have never been more bullish on our future.”

The CPC Strategy acquisition represents Elite SEM’s third acquisition since partnering with Denver-based private equity firm Mountaingate Capital in February 2017. Mountaingate has supported substantial organic investments in Elite’s marketing science practice while also providing growth capital to facilitate the acquisitions of Paid Social media agency OrionCKB in November 2017 and email and CRM specialist shop Email Aptitude in May 2018.

The acquisition includes CPC Strategy’s proprietary Amazon media and bid optimization platform, CAPx, which provides a substantial competitive advantage through both efficiency and efficacy gains, resulting in superior service and performance gains for their clients. While Elite SEM will continue to work with industry partners and third-party technology, this proprietary solution enables strategy and service teams to address market gaps and provide the best platform recommendation for clients.

About Elite SEM
Elite SEM is an award-winning digital marketing agency founded on Search and focused on holistic performance-driven digital marketing. Through organic growth and acquisitions of OrionCKB, Email Aptitude, and now CPC Strategy, Elite’s expertise spans Paid Search, SEO, Shopping & Feed, Paid Social, Display Advertising, Amazon & Marketplaces, Affiliate Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), CRM, Email Marketing, and Creative Services – collectively supported by Integrated Media Strategy and Analytics/Marketing Science teams. From discovery through acquisition, retention, reactivation and loyalty, Elite’s services span all stages of an integrated marketing strategy and through the entire customer journey allowing leading industry brands to effectively and strategically evaluate digital marketing spend and increase cross-channel performance. Clients include: Bombas, Timex, the San Antonio Spurs, U.S. Polo Assn., Adore Me, Tourneau, Tatcha, Francesca’s, Einstein Bagels, Tommy Bahama, Melissa & Doug, Hugo Boss, Theory, Aaptiv, Zipcar, and Terminix.

Elite SEM has won several prestigious industry awards and accolades for both their culture and performance. Elite’s commitment to people and performance has cemented their position as one of the top digital marketing agencies in North America. For more information, visit

About CPC Strategy
CPC Strategy is a retail-focused digital marketing agency that specializes in driving performance growth on the channels that directly impact a retailer’s digital bottom line. Founded in 2007, CPC executes on ad strategy and management for retailers and brands on Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and other product advertising channels. Clients include Pfizer, Reef, Nixon, Guthy Renker, Seventh Generation, and Franklin Sports. CPC Strategy has been recognized in the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies™ and was also honored as a finalist in “Best Places to Work” by the San Diego Business Journal. For more information visit