Research: A Change for the Better?

Finally, the industry shakeout is showing signs of settling down. Let’s hope it’s to our benefit.

Last week, a colleague sent an email to a members-only list with the news. He wanted someone to clarify a “rumor” he heard: Jupiter‘s remaining research and events assets had been sold for $250,000.

Most, if not all, the planners on the list are Jupiter clients. We all scrambled to our news sources to verify. There it was on Internet News headlined, “INT Media Acquires Jupiter Research.” Wow, only $250K! [INT Media Group is ClickZ’s parent company –Ed.]

It’s been hard keeping up with Jupiter, as the company’s various divisions have been sold off piece by piece over the past year. The article does a great job recapping events:

  • Jupiter recently sold its North American and research panel assets to Virginia-based comScore Networks for $1.5 million — cash.

  • In April, NetRatings paid $8.5 million to acquire Jupiter’s Seattle-based AdRelevance group, which tracks online campaigns, sites’ ad sales, and advertisers’ spending.
  • INT Media Group intends to fold Jupiter’s research products into its extant research group, which in turn is integrated with the company’s 175 publications.
  • Jupiter Events will be folded into INT Media Group’s conference and seminar program.
  • Kurt Abrahamson, president of Jupiter Research, plans to continue in the same capacity under the INT Media Group umbrella. The Jupiter name will be retained, and Jupiter will operate as a separate division within its new parent company.
  • INT Media will assume some of Jupiter’s liabilities.

Last month, Jupiter sold its European measurement service to rival NetRatings for $2 million.

Nielsen tried to acquire Jupiter not long ago for a pretty penny (about $50 million). The Federal Trade Commission put the kibosh on the deal, deeming it monopolistic. If the deal had gone forward, Nielsen would have had a huge advantage over most communications media.

As media planners and buyers, we depend on these often pricey research tools. Agencies and other companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in subscription/usage fees for research. Many research tools lack the immediacy required for Internet advertising. For example, overall numbers for a specific category might be a year behind. Spending figures? Don’t get me started. They seem grossly inflated. The bulk of our work hours are spent on front-end strategy — research and planning — in addition to monitoring campaign activity and optimizing based on results. Often, we’re left scouring the Net for stats, facts, and proof points to validate, justify, or beef-up our media plans.

Could these mergers and acquisitions bring forth a much-needed language we can all use, preach, and live by? I hope so.

One final question: What have Forrester and Gartner got to say about the changes in the competitive landscape? We’ll have to sit back and watch.

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