Digital creative agencies and search shops

LBi's recent acquisition of Netrank, follows AKQA's acquisition of SearchRev, Syzygy's acquisition of Unique Digital and Engine's merger of Meme, Eyefall and DC Interact to create Altogether (and in a reverse of the trend, iCrossing acquiring Proxicom). Digital creative agencies seem to be merging with search shops left right and centre. What's going on?

Only as far back as October 2006, all the buzz was about traditional media agencies moving into the search space and if anything, the buying of the search specialists was going to be by the very same media agencies. Then in October last year, Media Week covered the issue of why search agencies were hot, but giving us no clues as to why the sudden interest from digital creative agencies.

Is this purely a financial opportunity being exploited, with the plan to use the same account management teams for both creative and search, along with the chance to cross sell services to clients? Or is it something more – the signs of a synergy between creative and search that's been thus far unapparent? Does anyone have any ideas?

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