Naviant, eDirect.com to Merge

Consolidation continues among the players in email marketing, as Naviant and eDirect announce their intention to merge.

While the new company will be called Naviant, most of the company’s 150 employees will be located in eDirect’s Boca Raton, Fla. headquarters. A small group will continue working in Naviant’s New York office, the companies said. Naviant had originally been headquartered in Newtown Square, Penn.

Most importantly, the agreement will see the two firms combine their consumer databases and managed email lists into what the companies said would be a single “mega-base,” of an estimated 60 million profiles.

A large portion of the business is likely to come from “email append” services that link online addresses to offline profiles. Naviant earlier this year unveiled a tool that connects clients’ offline lists with the opted-in email addresses of families in Naviant’s approximately 30 million-strong High-Tech Household file. eDirect, similarly, offers an that finds email addresses among the lists it manages — containing about 30 million names — and matches them up with marketers’ offline housefiles.

As a result, Naviant — which got its start managing companies’ online hardware and software registrations — said the combination of its on- and offline profiles with eDirect’s double-opt-in lists would create a marketing powerhouse.

“The merger between Naviant and eDirect is a cornerstone of the future of Internet marketing with Naviant emerging as an undisputed leader in precision online direct marketing,” said Naviant chairman Charles Stryker. “The merger allows what until now has been rarely achieved in the industry — the melding of unique offline and online data with precision online marketing, providing customers with an exclusive selling tool and for our millions of opt-in subscribers.”

Even though it commands a whopping profile database, Naviant must contend with the space’s other growing giants. DoubleClick, which controls one of the country’s largest offline co-op consumer databases through the Abacus Alliance, also has made several major acquisitions during the past year designed to boost its email practice — which has proven to be one of the firm’s key money-makers.

Despite the divestiture of its Exactis unit earlier this year, New York-based 24/7 Real Media also remains a large player in the email space, with some 30 million addresses under management following the 24/7 Media-Real Media merger. List giant NetCreations also has shown a willingness to tweak its offerings to meet growing market demand, experimenting for the first time with single-opt-in lists.

Still, even as competitors jockey for position, Naviant executives remain optimistic about the merged company’s prospects.

“This puts us in a league of our own with one of the biggest and most profitable Internet marketing platforms ever created,” said eDirect president Michael Brauser, who will become chief executive and president of the merged firm. “The depth and richness of this combined database is unrivaled. We have created a major player … for precision e-marketing services.”

While facing sizable competition, Naviant also brings to the table some impressive partnerships. Earlier this year, Softbank Capital Partners and WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam placed multi-million dollar investments in the firm.

A year ago, Naviant also struck a deal with a database marketing agency owned by Dutch research and publishing giant VNU, to roll out joint ventures in Europe, which began operations this year.

“There is no doubt in our minds that the synergies between the two companies will have a marketing impact that will be felt throughout the industry,” Brauser said. “We will provide direct marketers the most complete online solution for reaching consumers, comprising the broadest reach and the most precise tools.”

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