In snapping up Hitwise, the consumer data giant Experian is merely following its clients which are increasingly turning from mass media platforms to digital ones with the ability to specifically target niche audiences.
The acquisition of Hitwise is expected to help Experian expand its market research offerings to clients by delivering sophisticated and unique data about consumer online behavior in search, along with other online activities.
Hitwise, which has more than 1,200 clients, partners with Internet Service Providers and analyzes online consumer behavioral data and usage patterns, generating reports on how consumers interact with various Web sites.
Experian attributed Hitwise's appeal to its global presence and diverse client base; clients run across segments including financial services, media, travel and retail.
Hitwise's top ten clients account for just 5% of sales. some 43% of Hitwise's sales are generated in the U.S., 36% in the U.K. and 21% from Australia and Asia Pacific.
The nearly 10-year-old company has increased its customer base by more than 40% in the last two years, grown its proprietary technology, offered marketers new tools for analyzing Web activity, and is expected to expand further into Western Europe and Asia.
Hitwise will operate as a global product line under the Experian Marketing Services line of businesses and fills a key gap in the portfolio, according to Mark Zablan, group president, Experian Marketing Service.
"Through our Research Services business [Simmons], we are already able to help clients understand consumer behavior through traditional offline channels such as direct mail and broadcast advertising. Now, Hitwise enables us to also be able to describe consumer behaviors online, understanding how consumers traverse the Internet to research areas of interest and products and make purchases," Zablan explained. The companies have worked together for four years: Hitwise uses Experian MOSAIC codes to append demographic descriptions to Hitwise data.
"We see further opportunities to expand this product development to include marketing models and more granular demographic data," Zablan said. Experian also sees an opportunity to cross-sell Hitwise services to Experian customers: "The most immediate fit is to cross-sell Hitwise to the CheetahMail customer base."
Hitwise is expected to post a small profit for the year to March 31, 2007, with sales increasing 50% to nearly $40 million.