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NetRatings Buys DoubleClick's @plan for $18.5M

NetRatings Inc. has bought DoubleClick Inc.'s @plan for $18.5 million in stock and cash.

The acquisition comes less than a month after NetRatings, an Internet audience measurement and analysis company, paid $8.5 million to buy Jupiter Media Metrix's AdRelevance online advertising measurement unit.

“We're trying to establish ourselves as the global standard for Internet media and market research, and these acquisitions are just steps along that strategy,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of marketing and analytics at NetRatings, Milpitas, CA.

@plan, a syndicated survey-based audience measurement tool for Internet media planning, buying and selling — will join NetRatings' Nielsen//NetRatings and AdRelevance products as part of a suite of Internet media research services that capture Internet user attitudes and lifestyles.

Serving many major media sites and advertising agencies, @plan is built from research gathered from Gallup-conducted surveys of 40,000 active adult users of the Internet.

According to a multi-year partnership announced concurrently with the deal, @plan and Nielsen//NetRatings research data will be integrated into DoubleClick's DART and MediaVisor ad management products and services.

Also, Nielsen//NetRatings and DoubleClick will jointly develop reach and frequency campaign planning tools.

“We expect a smooth transition,” Kaldor said. “We're bringing over the staff to us, and we certainly don't want to drop the ball — they're bringing over 200 clients to us.”

With @plan in its portfolio, NetRatings can better help marketers and advertisers hone online marketing strategies.

“Our current product set provides a high degree of tracking and what users do,” Kaldor said. “What this adds is a complement for psychographic and cybergraphic information. So combining that with our current products is a complete Internet audience measurement solution.”

@plan's change of hands comes 1 1/2 years after DoubleClick announced on Sept. 26, 2000, its intent to buy the previously independent company. Only last month DoubleClick said it had added consumer online spending to @plan.

DoubleClick, New York, is steadily moving away from Internet marketing services to becoming a provider of marketing technology offerings.

For example, DoubleClick recently upgraded and rebranded its AdServer platform. In March the company announced the sale of its e-mail list services division to Walter Karl's infoUSA unit. That DoubleClick unit managed 45 e-mail lists with 38.6 million names.

In the same month, Morgan Stanley published a note saying that the investment bank no longer considered DoubleClick a media company.

That announcement followed back-to-back deals signed by DoubleClick. One was a three-year agreement with German media and entertainment giant Bertelsmann to license the DoubleClick AdServer, DART for publishers and DARTmail products. The other was the $12.5 million stock-only purchase of MessageMedia, an e-mail service provider.

DoubleClick is fairly upfront about its new positioning. Marketing materials now allude to DoubleClick as a “leading provider of tools for advertisers, direct marketers and Web publishers to plan, execute and analyze their marketing programs.”

“In general, I think they're looking for a partnership for research instead of building research inhouse,” Kaldor said.

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