ValueClick Acquires Ad Metrics Firm StraightUP!

Cost-per-click ad network ValueClick Monday said that it will acquire marketing analysis firm StraightUP!, adding a media planning and optimization consultancy to its services for online advertisers and marketers.

The main benefit of the deal for ValueClick is control of StraightUP!’s flagship product, eTrax. The system analyses an advertiser’s on- and offline campaign with regard to levels of performance and ROI — that is, sales or customer acquisitions — with an eye to optimizing campaign spending.

Investing in a system that reports ROI makes some sense for ValueClick, which markets itself as an alternative to CPM networks, with which the value of impression-based advertising is somewhat harder to calculate.

Monday’s acquisition thus raises some questions about the objectiveness of StraightUP!’s reporting and planning recommendations as presented by ValueClick — which has an interest in justifying buys on its network, its higher CPC rates, and the online advertising medium in general.

ValueClick is also under pressure to justify its business model. Like most of the online ad industry, shares of ValueClick have been taking a pounding since the NASDAQ’s April correction. The company issued guidance late last month that it would miss revenue estimates of $12 million by about $2 million to $2.5 million, and pushed back profitability estimates one quarter to first quarter, 2001. VCLK opened Monday at $4.61, about 19 percent off its 52-week high of 24.

Accordingly, income from a unit offering media planning and analytics might prove helpful in boosting the company’ bottom line.

ValueClick’s executives maintain that marketers are the main beneficiaries of the deal, and that their new analytics and optimization service shares their CPC ad network model’s focus on ROI accountability.

“We were determined to provide direct marketers and advertisers with the best tool for evaluating the success of their activities. This important addition illustrates the kind of results-based leadership that direct marketers and advertisers have come to expect from ValueClick,” said the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, James Zarley.

“The acquisition of StraightUP! highlights our commitment to delivering both expertise and bottom-line results to advertisers through innovative technology and the integration of industry-leading tools,” he added.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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