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Experian Unloads Consumer Data Businesses

Big changes in the world of data analysis and fraud protection continue to roll out this week with some of the biggest names in the sector — including Experian and Symphony Technology Group (STG) — coming together to make some notable announcements.

TechCrunch reported earlier this week that credit ratings agency Experian is selling two of its well-known analytics divisions in a $51.5 million deal.

Firstly, Hitwise, the traffic measurement company, is being sold to Connexity; second is Simmons, which publishes the National Consumer Study (NCS), which is being sold to Symphony Technology Group, a private equity company that owns Connexity. The two groups currently operate as Experian Consumer Insights but gradually will get separated over 2016, the companies said. The two transactions were reportedly completed for $46.5 million.

The move suggests that Experian will use the sale to focus on the credit reports, credit ratings and fraud protection side of its business, while TechCrunch posits that Connexity — whose programmatic advertising platform connects into major ad exchanges to bid and buy programmatic ads — is also using the purchase to facilitate a pivot toward ads. Hitwise’s own change from website analytics to audience analytics is also in line with this directional shift.

Connexity CEO Bill Glass noted: “The combination of [Hitwise’s] AudienceView’s clickstream and panel-based data with Connexity’s programmatic audience targeting will enable our customers to research, understand and identify their target audiences and their behaviors, and eventually, in the same interface, activate those audiences.”

Meanwhile, the acquisition of Simmons will allow STG to develop the National Consumer Study publisher into a standalone business all its own. The NCS currently covers some 8,000 brands and 500 product categories in the U.S., which has earned it an impeccable international reputation and applications across global businesses.

In a statement, Pat Pellegrini, GM of Simmons Research, said: “Simmons’ core focus and vision is built on measurement science to efficiently and effectively measure consumer and media behavior by bringing together survey and passively collected data. With STG, we will accelerate this measurement vision to address the challenges in measuring today’s dynamic connected consumer.” Pellegrini continued, “STG’s investment will allow us to further our continued leadership in consumer research and drive exciting new initiatives, including brand momentum studies, consumer life stage analyses and targeted new media and connected device studies.”

This development could prove valuable for the company and make Simmons a highly desirable entity among other even larger reporting companies who would be eager to integrate such wide-ranging functionality into their own reporting portfolio. “We anticipate an exciting road ahead to extend Simmons’ capabilities as a world-class consumer research company,” added JT Treadwell, managing director of STG.

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