A harbor for digital experts.

Three Ships is a family of digital businesses. We started as a digital advertising agency. Since then, we have launched five other digital businesses – two of which we’ve successfully exited. Private equity firms have turned to us to evaluate deals, and public companies have to come to us to help them achieve digital transformation. Our mission is to unlock growth for our clients through digital marketing.

Our Digital Family

Our digital businesses unlock growth for clients. We keep growing right alongside them.

CRISP

CRISP is a digital advertising agency that remains at the heart of what Three Ships does. As the first business grown out of Three Ships, it was founded on the idea that icons are made, not born.

3S Ventures

3S Ventures is a full-funnel customer acquisition and sales conversion platform. It co-invests with brands to grow their digital presence and offers clients a digital partnership designed to expand their digital channels and add incremental customers.

House Method

A media destination for home enthusiasts, House Method combines high-quality journalism and trustworthy expert reviews to help consumers find their method of creating the home they imagine.

Mattress Advisor

Mattress Advisor is a leading reviews website that helps consumers make sense of the complicated mattress and sleep categories. Editorial integrity and the highest quality information are at the heart of what we do.

Demand Signals

Demand Signals is a software and search company. It’s the second business that was born out of Three Ships and attests that “organic search doesn’t have to be unpredictable.” It was acquired by TRANZACT in October of 2016.

Lavalier

We invested capital and served as Agency of Record for Lavalier, which provides specialized jewelry insurance. Lavalier grew to become the #1 online jewelry insurance company in the United States. Berkley (NYSE: WRB), one of the leading U.S. insurance companies, acquired Lavalier to accelerate its distribution strategy for specialty insurance.

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The Building.

We’re located at 1122 Oberlin Road in the heart of Raleigh’s Cameron Village District. Our building has a video studio, a secret room, and maybe even a bar.  Join us.

By the numbers

  • 25000 sq. feet
  • 3 floors
  • 80 + professionals

Background

While we weren’t quite founded in a dorm room, our founder did start the company shortly after finishing graduate school in 2009. He believed that digital marketing changes the way consumers buy. The name “Three Ships” – a tribute to Christopher Columbus’ three ships – paid tribute to the innovative spirit that’s required to navigate the ever-changing tide of digital marketing. Over time, Three Ships expanded beyond its initial roots as a digital advertising agency. In 2016, Three Ships announced that its digital marketing agency would become CRISP and the organic search software firm would become Demand Signals. It also began investing in research and development on pay-for-performance digital marketing, formalizing its efforts into a third company, 3S Ventures.

Three Ships Founder, Zach Clayton

Raleigh, North Carolina native Zach Clayton is the Chairman & CEO of Three Ships, which he founded in 2009.

Three Ships is a digital marketing investment firm that has built six digital marketing businesses including CRISP (its flagship digital agency), Mattress Advisor (high quality reviews for the fast-growing mattress category), House Method (a consumer media property for home enthusiasts), and 3S Ventures (shared-risk performance marketing partnerships). The company successfully built and exited Demand Signals (a software company sold to TRANZACT) and Lavalier (an online jewelry insurance business sold to W.R. Berkley).  Three Ships also works with financial sponsors to evaluate deals or accelerate a digital marketing transformation in portfolio companies.

Zach is a “digital lifer.” He started New Media Campaigns, a web and application development firm, as an undergraduate and published his first research paper on social media well before Facebook was public or Instagram existed. He has worked with leading private equity firms and more than 25 private equity-backed clients, advising CEOs, senior marketers and company leadership on digital strategy.

Zach has written for The Hotline, authored three books, published numerous articles on digital media, has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News, and graced the cover of Business North Carolina Magazine when Three Ships won the 2016 Small Business of the Year award. He holds an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar, and a BA from UNC Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Zach currently serves on the Foundation Board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism, the Board of the Dix Park Conservancy, and the board of With Honor.