Harte-Hanks to Buy AberdeenGroup for Research and Benchmarking Data

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Direct marketing services giant Harte-Hanks Inc. has agreed to buy AberdeenGroup Inc., taking off the market one of the leading providers of technology research and lead generation services.

The deal, expected to close by month's end, will give Harte-Hanks access to AberdeenGroup research in 17 business areas, reports and benchmarking data from more than 25,000 companies tracked over two years. The Jordan, Edmiston Group, New York, advised AberdeenGroup, Boston.

"The venture capital shareholders [backing AberdeenGroup] had decided to sell," said David Clark, managing director at Jordan, Edmiston. "They were fairly long in that investment, but more importantly, the company had restructured around an entirely new business model … with its core technology sector clients."

Terms were not disclosed.

Once the deal is closed, the acquired company will operate as Harte-Hanks AberdeenGroup. AberdeenGroup president/CEO Jamie Bedard will become managing director of the new Harte-Hanks business unit. The AberdeenGroup office and analysts will remain in Boston.

AberdeenGroup researches on technology applications for sectors like retail and financial services, sales and marketing, service, supply chain management, procurement and human resources.

Once linked, AberdeenGroup will be able to leverage Harte-Hanks' Ci Technology Database that tracks technology infrastructure, business profiles and technology purchase plans at 680,000 locations across the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.

Also, Harte-Hanks Shoppers is a leading owner, operator and distributor of shopper publications with 1,100 separate editions and 13 million-plus circulation each week in California and Florida.

"What they don't have is the ability to provide their existing technology vendor clients with more interactive marketing and lead generation services, and they need that aspect if they're going to do a better job of competing with other leading providers of technology generation services, including the large technology trade publishing groups like CMP or more focused specialists like KnowledgeStorm or TechTarget," Mr. Clark said.

"And what Aberdeen needs to accelerate its business development is access to additional technology end-user communities to support its research and to extend the reach of its content distribution, including overseas, and the Harte-Hanks Ci Database is valuable to Aberdeen in that regard as is Harte-Hanks' e-mail expertise," he said.

Harte-Hanks has two facilities in the same state where AberdeenGroup is located. One is in Billerica, MA, where Harte-Hanks' data quality software and database hosting services are based. The other is in East Bridgewater, MA, home to its print-on-demand and marketing fulfillment operations.

Of course, Massachusetts is a close competitor to California and Virginia in the number of technology and market research firms it hosts. AberdeenGroup competitor Forrester Research Inc. is based in Cambridge, MA, for example.

As Mr. Clark points out, AberdeenGroup has its own unique selling point compared with its rivals.

"The Gartners and the Forresters and the Jupiters of the world, for the most part, provide analyst opinion and advisory services to enterprises considering a technology purchase decision," Mr. Clark said.

"Aberdeen, on the other hand, conducts best practices and benchmarking research of technology purchase decision makers and packages that educational content and licenses to technology vendors to use in their Web-based, demand generation and marketing campaigns," he said.

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