Marketing Platform Connexity (Formerly Shopzilla) Adds Data Services Simmons Research & Hitwise To Its Platform
Moving beyond its former life in comparison shopping, Connexity is on a buying and integration spree to become a data-driven marketing engine.
The Los Angeles-based company said it has purchased marketing data provider Hitwise from information services firm Experian. At the same time, Connexity’s parent organization, private equity firm Symphony Technology Group, also announced it has picked up consumer research firm Simmons Research from the same Experian.
These are Connexity’s third and fourth acquisitions in less than two years. In June, it acquired comparison shopping engine and retail lead-generation platform PriceGrabber, and late last year, it bought another comparison shopping site, Become.com.
“We’re very far from being what we were with Shopzilla,” Connexity CEO Bill Glass told me. “Even just five years ago we were focused on comparison shopping.”
These new acquisitions, he said, ”position us as a technology and data-driven marketing services company.” The intention, he said, is to provide marketers with the “most accurate and complete audience segments.”
At Experian, Hitwise recently developed AudienceView. It combined the clickstream data that Hitwise tracks with the customer research from Simmon’s 25,000-person survey panels. Simmons’ National Consumer Study, which is widely used by marketers and agencies, covers 8,000 brands, 500 product categories and what Connexity describes as “virtually every conceivable media genre available in the United States.”
Hitwise has specialized in competitive online intelligence, where it monitors about seven billion URLs daily to track where visitors came before arriving at a competitor’s site and where they go afterward. Simmons utilized its panels to understand consumers’ behavioral patterns — what websites they visited, what physical stores they patronized, even what newspapers they read.
Connexity says that Hitwise and Simmons’ diverse and massive data collections, plus the behavioral and intent data derived from online customers coming to Shopzilla and PriceGrabber and the customer insights from 27 million annual customer surveys conducted by its Bizrate Insight unit, provide an unprecedented resource for audience-based targeting.
When fully integrated into Connexity’s dashboard by 2017, the company said, brands will be able to utilize planning and targeting data plus programmatic advertising tools in one view.
Until then, the new data will be employed to enhance Connexity’s cost-per-click ad business and audience modeling platform, using separate dashboards.
Additionally, Connexity says that when the data is fully integrated, retailers will be able to use AudienceView to compare demographics, preferences and behavior between customers online and those in physical stores, with the inferred physical store data coming from the real-world patterns articulated by consumers in Simmons’ panels.
If the data from Hitwise and Simmons is so valuable, why would Experian — which has its own Marketing Services division — want to part with them?
Experian wants to “double down and focus” on its own Marketing Suite, Hitwise managing director Nigel Wilson told me. He noted that the Marketing Suite is built around Experian’s acquisition of email service provider CheetahMail in 2004.
The deal, which the company said was $46.5 million, plus as much as an additional $5 million based on earnings, gives Experian continued access to Hitwise and Simmons’ data. Hitwise gets continued access to segmentation capabilities in the Experian Marketing Suite.
Hitwise will operate as a division within Connexity, while Simmons Research will transition into a standalone business within the Symphony Technology Group portfolio.
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