PE Firm Symphony Acquires Experian’s Consumer Insights Assets For $47M

SymphonyPrivate equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG) has acquired Experian Marketing Services’ Consumer Insights division for $47 million. This entity consists of Simmons Research and consumer clickstream data company Hitwise.

Symphony will bring on about 300 people as a result of the deal.

Although the deal price could increase by $5 million, which is contingent upon those businesses’ performance, it’s worth noting Experian first acquired Hitwise in 2007 for $240 million.

An Experian Marketing Services rep issued a written statement to AdExchanger claiming it used Hitwise and Simmons’ data to support analytical projects, but added these two products provide “a very specialized service that is peripheral to our main Marketing Services business.”

One focus continues to be the Experian Marketing Suite and its ability to foster cross-channel campaign management, the rep added.

The company’s overall focus is more aligned around “consumer finance and information, and to some extent, marketing services,” JT Treadwell, managing director of STG, told AdExchanger, but “I think they were largely trying to clean up their portfolio and not be in the market research business.”

Ray Wang, principal analyst for Constellation Research, agreed: “Experian is focusing on its core business, hence this divestiture.”

With Symphony’s acquisition, Simmons Research will become a standalone business permitting greater focus on measurement, data quality and cross-channel consumer and media research, according to Pat Pellegrini, GM of Simmons Research.

Hitwise goes to Connexity, an STG portfolio company focused on shopping insights, activation and lead gen.

Simmons’ opt-in panel, Simmons Connect, which is designed to gauge consumer activity across devices, was a big driver in STG’s investment, said Treadwell.

A key component of one STG portfolio company, measurement firm SymphonyAM (Advanced Media), is combining attitudinal (or survey-based) data with behavioral insights through mobile device meters.

“To date, we have been profiling our … panelists on a quarterly basis, which allows us to understand the media behavior of numerous demographic and psychographic consumer profiles,” explained Charlie Buchwalter, CEO of SymphonyAM.

Symphony’s acquisition of Simmons and its National Consumer Study, based on 40,000 consumer respondents, he said, “will enhance the value of our service by generating more highly granular and robust consumer profiles.”

Symphony Technology Group is the latest ad and mar tech acquirer in a string of recent private equity investments. Vista Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Mediaocean, Cathay Capital invested in Smart AdServer and HGGC acquired a majority stake in both Selligent and StrongView.

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