Meredith acquires database company Directive

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Meredith Corp. acquired database/CRM firm Directive Corp. on October 4.

Directive, based in Dallas, specializes in database strategy, analytics and customer asset management. The company, formed in 2004, has clients ranging from Petco to Pizza Hut, with a heavy focus on retail and consumer package organizations.

For the last two years, Directive and Meredith have been working together on some shared clients. Meredith's acquisition of Directive was seen as a strategic move from both sides.

"Meredith has a very large footprint with all of the advertisers that they have ongoing relationships with through their publishing arm, and they're in the midst of a pretty big transition, trying to convert and move more digital," said Jack Wolf, CEO of Directive. "Joining them provides us the entrΘe with their advertisers, and their strategic direction really played into our strengths.

"Being a small company, it was important to get access to Meredith's resources, form a relationship and be able to rely on their financial strength."

Wendy Riches, EVP of Meredith Publishing Group added, "We've been making sure we evolve our capabilities in all media, so with the acquisitions we've been making [Directive] is the last piece of the puzzle. This makes sure we have the analytical capabilities that help with consumer insights and devising marketing strategies.

"The Internet marketing agencies [Meredith has acquired] have CRM at heart, so this is an important adjunct to what we do."

Directive joins a slew of marketing services companies acquired by Meredith in the past 18 months. Also in the Meredith Interactive Marketing stable are interactive marketers O'Grady Meyers and Genex; New Media Strategies, specialists in Web 2.0 and word-of-mouth marketing; and Healia, an online health search engine.

Wolf, who started Directive with Frederick Barber, former EVP of Conclusive Strategies, does not foresee problems with integrating into Meredith Corporation.

"It really will be just making sure we can increase our bandwidth and capability to match the opportunities they put in front of us," he said. "I'm accustomed to being in positions where companies grow relatively quickly and the staffing required to do that."

Riches said Wolf, Barber and the rest of the Directive team will be working closely with Meredith executives, but there will be no real change in how the companies are run. Directive's analytics and customer management techniques will be used to benefit Meredith clients, which currently include Carnival Cruise Lines, Nestle, Kraft, MetLife and Hyundai.

Meredith Interactive Marketing, an arm of Meredith Corporation, holds one of the largest domestic databases among US media companies with 85 million names. Information about these names is supplemented with surveys and engagement tracking online.

The company also categorizes its database with its "passion points" system. Passion points show an individual's areas of interest, based on the themes of publications to which they subscribe.

Most of the names in the database come from subscribers to Meredith Corporation magazines. The Meredith Publishing Group owns 25 subscription magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, and produces custom publishing. Meredith also holds 13 television stations and more than 40 Web sites.

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