Experian sells off Hitwise and Simmons for $47M

Steven Loeb · December 14, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4203

Connexity purchased Hitwise, while Simmons was bought by Symphony Technology Group

It can he hard not to be a little weirded out sometimes about how much information there is about all of us floating out there now, but it's the world we live in. That information is also extremely valuable, and companies will pay big money to get their hands on it, or to get their hands on the companies that can provide it.

Apparently not every company is interested in this data, though, as Experian is getting rid of two of its biggest analytics divisions, selling them off in separate transactions, the company revealed on Monday.

First, it sold off traffic measurement company Hitwise, which it had purchased in 2007 for $240 million, to  integrated digital advertising company Connexity. It also sold consumer research company Simmons to private equity firm Symphony Technology Group, which happens to be Connexity's private equity parent.

The two transactions combined were worth $47, million plus a further potential amount of up to $5 million based on an earnout, though the price breakdown of each specific deal was not specified.

Right now, Simmons and Hitwise operate today under the combined entity called Experian Consumer Insights. Going forward, t he two business lines will continue to operate as a combined entity, though Connexity and Symphony will seek to separate the two properties over the course of 2016.

Simmons will transition over the course of 2016 to operate as a standalone business, under the brand Simmons Research, within the Symphony Technology Group portfolio, while Hitwise, meanwhile, will operate as a division within Connexity.

It seems like Experian took a fnancial hit on these transactions, not only considering how much it paid for Hitwise, nearly $200 million more than it got for both transactions, but the fact that Hitwise and Simmons combined revenue for the year ending March 31 2015 was $74 million, yet Experian was only able to get around half of that in the sale. 

Founded in 1997, Hitwise delivers daily insights to online consumer behavior to help marketers increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. The company recently launched an audience segmentation and behavioral analytics platform. Called AudienceView, it provides companies with demographic and psychographic behavioral insights on their target consumers. That includes visibility into behavior patterns by device type, such as mobile phones.

For Connexity, which rebranded from Shopzilla in September of last year, this acquisition will help continue its transformation from comparison shopping to technology and data-driven marketing services. On top of the name change, that has also included the acquisitions of PriceGrabber and Become.com, which allow Connexity to provide audience segments for marketers.

In the long-term, the data it gets from these acquisitions will enhance the company's CPC listings business, as well as its audience modeling platform that scores data and builds audiences, and Connexity's programmatic platform that connects to all of the major ad exchanges where we bid and buy programmatic ads. 

"Hitwise's shift from website analytics to audience-based analytics aligns perfectly with our audience activation approach at Connexity, which is focused on delivering highly-targeted audiences created from our expansive shopping network," Bill Glass, CEO of Connexity, said in a statement.

"The combination of AudienceView's clickstream and panel-based data with Connexity's programmatic audience targeting will enable our customers to research, understand and identify their target audiences, and their behaviors, and eventually, in the same interface activate those audiences." 

Before it was acquired, Hitwise has raised over $14 million in venture funding from investors that included Allen & Buckeridge and Insight Venture Partners.

Simmons, whenwhile is more than 60 years old, having been founded all the way back in 1950, and the company is  best known for its National Consumer Study (NCS), which measures consumer preferences, attitudes and media behaviors. It allows brands to engage with consumers using demographic, psychographic, attitudinal, intent and behavioral data across devices. Currently, Simmons provides insights on over 8,000 brands and 500 product categories.

For Symphony Technology Group, the data that Simmons is able to provide better insights to brands as consumption becomes more fragmented in terms of the number of channels and devices. 

"With the tremendous changes affecting the digital and media landscape, we believe high quality, foundational, and extensible data like Simmons are critical to understand the dynamic multi-dimensional consumer.  Rich data, projectable samples and strong methodology are the hallmarks of Simmons and the building blocks of effective consumer research, media planning, measurement, and activation," JT Treadwell, Managing Director of STG, said in a statement. 

Experian had bought Simmons in 2004 for an unspecified price. 

As for Experian, the company didn't go into a lot of detail about why it decided to sell off Hitwise and Simmons, only saying that the company "has concluded these businesses provide limited synergies with the Group’s core businesses," without specifiying why that was. Perhaps the company will focus more on providing credit scores going forward than data analytics. 

“These disposals are in line with our strategy to focus our portfolio where we can create synergies and competitive advantage," Brian Cassin, Chief Executive Officer of Experian, said in a statement,

"We are pleased that Symphony Technology Group will continue to develop these businesses and thank the management team and employees for their support and wish them every success in the future.”

VatorNews has reached out to Experian for more information regarding these transactions. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: theguardian.com)

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