TNS Boosts Web-Measurement Stable

Picks Up Traffic-Tracker Compete for $75 Million

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NEW YORK ( -- TNS Media Intelligence is continuing to try to bolster its name in the web-measurement space with a $75 million acquisition of Compete, an traffic-tracking service. Last year it purchased online word-of-mouth-measurement firm Cymfony.

Compete, born out of IdeaLab, a technology incubator that also has spawned companies such as Citysearch and Picasa, tracks traffic to and from websites, reporting metrics such as visitors, engagement and growth. The Compete blog clocks in at No. 23 on the Ad Age Power 150.

The service has been around since 2000 but recently has taken on a more proactive role in marketing its services to advertisers. Last year, Chief Marketing Officer Stephen DiMarco told Ad Age the service concentrates on measuring the top 500,000 sites. After that, he said, audience falls off fairly quickly. To glean web traffic, the company buys the rights to use ISP data and supplements that with a panel of 2 million.

Busy year
TNS will marry Compete's data with the panel data it gets about consumer attitudes and behavior, said David Lowden, CEO of TNS. In a statement, he also outlined longer-term plans: using TNS's Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience-measurement capabilities "to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior."

The past year has been busy for web-measurement companies. Last year, Hitwise was acquired by Experian for $250 million and ComScore went public, although its share price is off from its end-of-2007 highs. Additionally, Nielsen integrated Nielsen/NetRatings and Buzzmetrics into one division, Nielsen Online.

According to the acquisition announcement, Compete lost $4.5 million on $14.9 million in revenue in 2007 because it was "invested in building its panel and industry expertise." The $75 million price tag is contingent on it meeting certain financial goals and will be awarded in deferred cash payments from 2008 to 2010.
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