Q: What’s the news?
A: Connexity announced today that it acquired Hitwise from Experian.
Q: What is Hitwise?
A: Hitwise is a leader in digital behavioural insights and a pioneer in the field of large scale online clickstream and search data analytics. Its core software as a service enables online marketers, agencies and media companies to better understand website traffic patterns, namely online clickstream and search trends across nearly every relevant domain. The company was founded in 1997 and has been a part of Experian’s Marketing Services division since 2007.
Over 900 clients across every industry rely on Hitwise to improve the effectiveness of search, display, affiliate, email and social marketing campaigns.
Q: Could you describe the services they offer?
A: Hitwise Competitive Intelligence offers upstream and downstream clickstream behaviour (where people come from before they visit your site, and where they go to after they leave your site), competitive benchmarking and market share across virtually every website one could imagine. They collect data from over 7 billion URLs daily. It reveals upstream traffic source, keywords, and device type used (ie. desktop, tablet, or mobile) or the intersection of all three. Customers access the information through a self-service portal where they can query and create reports from a proprietary database of the behaviour of millions of online consumers touching virtually every corner of the web (data is completely anonymous – i.e. no cookies). They can also work with Hitwise analysts to create custom reports.
There are two primary use cases—the first is helping marketers benchmark their performance against competitors and identify missed opportunities (traffic sources and search queries). Hitwise’s particular calling card here is on offering deep insights into search marketing at a massive scale. The second use case is for agencies and media companies who are pitching new clients or making recommendations for current clients. Hitwise enables these companies to come to client meetings with exceptional knowledge about their prospective or current clients and all of their competitors and offer invaluable insights.
Hitwise just recently launched a significant upgrade to its core offering. The new offering, which is called Hitwise AudienceView, layers extensive consumer demographics and brand purchase behaviour (provided by Simmons Research in the US) on top of this online behavioural data. This changes the focus from a domain-based view of the data to a consumer or audience-based view of data. This is an exciting innovation that will enable customers to do much more granular segmentation and better understand their target audiences.
Q: Why is Connexity buying them? What is the vision for how the pieces fit together?
A: Our goal is to help marketers understand their consumers better, acquire new customers at a lower cost, and increase sales.
As we’ve grown from our roots in comparison shopping to become a digital marketing platform, we have made a number of acquisitions including PriceGrabber, Become.com and now Hitwise. These not only enlarge our geographic footprint, but enable us to provide the most accurate and complete audience segments for marketers.
There is a huge opportunity to simplify the customer path from audience understanding to activation. The combination of AudienceView’s clickstream and panel-based data with Connexity’s programmatic audience targeting will enable our customers to research, understand and identify their target audiences and eventually, in the same interface, to activate those audiences and review their advertising effectiveness.
In addition, Hitwise’s shift from website analytics to audience-based analytics with the launch of AudienceView aligns perfectly with Connexity’s focus on delivering highly targeted audiences created from our expansive shopping network.
In the long-term, this data will enhance not only our own CPC listings business, but also our audience modeling platform that scores data and builds audiences, and our programmatic platform that connects to all of the major ad exchanges where we bid and buy programmatic ads.
Q: Could you provide an example?
A: Once fully integrated with Connexity, retailers could, for example, use AudienceView to compare the demographics, preferences and web behaviour of customers that shop at their physical stores, to the customers that shop online, and then use that data to rethink their ad creative, update their media planning and then execute a campaign from the same interface.
Q: What are the plans for integration?
A: From a team standpoint, this is largely a stand-alone business that will run as a Connexity division, where Nigel Wilson, the Managing Director will report directly to me, and Nigel’s team will continue to report to him. We will merge offices in locations where we both have a presence – for example in London and New York. From a business standpoint, we have very similar customer bases, so we plan to leverage our relationships across product lines almost immediately in the UK and US markets. As mentioned above, farther down the road, we have a vision for a truly integrated product – one that simplifies and redefines how marketers connect the dots between audience planning and activation, but it’s unlikely we will address that until 2017.
Q: Where does Hitwise operate?
A: Revenue comes from three regions: US, UK and APAC (largely Australia).