Experian Buys Comparison Engine PriceGrabber

Consumer data giant Experian has acquired PriceGrabber.com for $485 million, the companies said today. The announcement confirms a week-old rumor that a buy-out was pending.

The comparison shopping engine will become a part of Experian Interactive, which also includes LowerMyBills.com, MetaReward, Affiliate Fuel and Experian Consumer Direct.

PriceGrabber.com has for months discussed its ambitions to expand into new verticals, and selling to Experian should help it clear the greatest hurdle to that expansion: access to pricing data in the various sectors.

“We’re absolutely going to roll out more [verticals],” PriceGrabber.com President Kamran Pourzanjani told ClickZ in September. “But the hard thing is making the data available. The data is not always available online.”

For Experian, the shopping engine gives it one more prong in a global direct marketing and lead generation strategy. It intends to turn PriceGrabber into a traffic engine for Web properties like LowerMyBills.com, and said it will use its own data and analytics tools to improve the quality of leads PriceGrabber.com sends to merchants.

“The acquisition of PriceGrabber.com will strengthen Experian’s presence in this important sector by giving its retail and catalog clients another channel to market, complementing the current multi-channel offer,” the company said in a statement.

Experian said there would be no layoffs at PriceGrabber, which employs 140 and is headquartered in L.A. The company was founded in 1999 and now powers comparison shopping on approximately 300 partner sites, including AskJeeves, MSN and About.com. Its reported unique user base is approximately 18 million.

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