J.D. Power Buys Umbria, Buzz Monitoring Firm

Marketing research firm J.D. Power and Associates has snatched up Umbria, a provider of online buzz monitoring and marketing intelligence services.

Umbria of Boulder, CO, offers a platform for tracking consumer sentiment on blogs, message boards, public social networks like MySpace, and other conversation-based media. It employs 40 staffers, approximately 20 of whom are focused on technology development. The rest help analyze and distill data spewed forth by its system into actionable themes and insights for clients. These are organized according to demographic profile.

“We specialize in adding analysis,” said Umbria CEO Janet Eden-Harris. “What’s the story the data is trying to tell? What are the implications to product management? Is my marketing message working? There are any number of questions [we can help answer],” she said.

The Umbria brand will likely go away as the firm is integrated with its much better known parent, which is itself a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

However, Eden-Harris said the division will operate as an independent product division. Its data offerings will also be added to J.D. Power’s “voice of the customer” research reports, which deliver customer satisfaction ratings to clients in the auto, finance, electronics, and healthcare sectors.

Umbria says its revenue quadrupled from 2006 to 2007 as the firm completed more than 70 projects for 50 companies in multiple verticals. Some of those categories, including consumer packaged goods and media & entertainment, are new to J.D. Power. Umbria’s price point for individual projects starts at $25,000 to $30,000, and goes up from there depending on a client’s needs, Eden-Harris said.

J.D. Power President Steve Goodall, in a statement, said the combination of its name recognition and research credentials with Umbria’s platform would help advance the merged entity’s thought leadership “well beyond the automotive industry into other emerging industries and markets.”

“Consumer-generated Web commentary is becoming a prominent part of our social fabric,” the statement added.

The companies did not disclose financial details of the transaction, which closed yesterday.

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