DoubleClick Snatches Up Market Research Firm for $120M

Ad rep, serving and tech company DoubleClick on Monday said it will purchase online market research company @plan in a cash-and-equity deal worth about $120 million.

According to the terms of the agreement, each share of @plan will be acquired for $9.25 in cash and stock — twenty percent of the consideration in cash, and the rest in DCLK stock. The $9.25 per-share value is 28 percent higher than @plan’s Friday closing stock price of $7.25.

However, the exchange price is subject to adjustment in the event that DoubleClick’s stock price falls below $23.87 before the meeting at which @plan’s shareholders vote on the acquisition.

The market was reacting favorably to the news at press time, with shares of DCLK trading at 37.9375, up 1.17 percent from Friday’s close of $37 1/2. APLN also popped on the announcement, up 18.1 percent to 8.5625 in early Monday trading.

DoubleClick said the merger will serve as the foundation for a research division, enabling the company to offer its clients tools that inform advertising and e-commerce decisions. In addition, the advertising company could cross-sell its current products to @plan’s clients.

“@plan’s products are used as core day-to-day tools by media planners and buyers,” said DoubleClick vice president and general manager of research Greg Ellis. “As we took a look at the market and the needs of media buying and e-commerce communities, it became clear that @plan was a strong partner to help DoubleClick build out a separate research division.”

@plan’s ASP-based research product combines databases of consumer survey responses with interactive software platforms, which clients query as they put together online marketing and e-commerce strategies.

“@plan is one of the industry’s most respected market research planning companies,” said DoubleClick chief executive officer Kevin Ryan. “This transaction will allow DoubleClick to bring world class research and objective planning solutions to the online marketing community.”

Clients of @plan include ad agencies, interactive agencies and dot-com consumer properties — such as Young & Rubicam, agency.com, and eBay.

“Together we will deliver customer-driven solutions that will raise the bar for accountability in advertising decision making and planning,” said @plan chairman and CEO Mark Wright.

Officials said the deal, which is subject to @plan shareholder approval and certain regulatory conditions, will likely close in the fourth quarter.

Wright will continue in those positions until the merger is completed, and will serve as a consultant afterwards. Ellis will become @plan’s president.

The news comes less than a week after analyst firm Jupiter Communications completed its merger with online media analytics company Media Metrix.

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