Return Path Acquires NetCreations

E-mail services firm Return Path has acquired email acquisition player NetCreations from Italian firm Seat P.G. in a deal that unites the companies’ complementary services.

Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.

NetCreations adds its email list rental, list management and market research capabilities to Return Path’s email deliverability, strategic consulting and email change of address (ECOA) services. Together, the similarly sized companies have 1,500 clients, with very little duplication among their customer lists, according to Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path.

“We have some very, very complementary assets,” said Blumberg. “It’s a broader set of comparable products to bring to our clients under one roof.”

Adds NetCreations President Michael Mayor, “They are focused on delivery, and we are focused on acquisition. Those are two of the hardest areas in email marketing, and we are the top services in both.”

Though email acquisition has been somewhat tainted by the ever-present spam problem, Blumberg says NetCreations has nevertheless been doing well.

“NetCreations is the gold standard out there. They are the pioneers of double opt-in and their business is actually quite healthy,” said Blumberg. “E-mail acquisition doesn’t work for all companies all of the time at all price points, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s dead.”

Mayor will continue to head NetCreations operations under Return Path’s leadership as well as join Return Path’s board of directors. While Return Path expects to consolidate sales, account management and administration, the company expects to retain most of NetCreations’ 32 employees.

NetCreations began to seek a suitor in earnest after its parent company, Seat P.G. sold off its European counterpart, Consodata Group Limited, to Acxiom last March. The move signaled Seat’s waning interest in the email space, which it entered in 2000.

“I don’t think we were a high priority for them. They are a huge company,” explains Mayor. “To their credit, they allowed us to look for deals and to find the best option. It worked out really well.”

While the two companies’ services don’t overlap, their capabilities are somewhat similar. Both work extensively with large databases — NetCreations in list rental and management, and Return Path in its ECOA business. Both have developed expertise in working with consumers. NetCreations registers individuals to receive third-party offers from advertisers, while Return Path signs up users for its ECOA database.

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