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RealTime IT News

@Plan: Providing Net Intelligence

More than ever, companies need to redefine their Internet strategies. Simply buying Super Bowl ads will not work. Companies need to find cost-effective ways to reach customers.

There are a variety of firms that help. Although, the industry has been hit hard. In fact, it looks as if there will be a good deal of consolidation. The most prominent deal was Media Metrix's acquisition of Jupiter Communications for $414 million.

But as consolidation continues and companies demand market research services, the industry should perk up. One company to keep an eye on is @Plan . Basically, the company develops sophisticated market research systems that are tied to databases that track product preferences, consumer lifestyles, and demographics.

The company has assembled an impressive suite of products:

The Gutenberg Advertising System: With this, companies can effectively determine objectives; find efficient ways to reach audiences; and perform comparisons of relative costs of reaching audiences. The system also helps with developing brands, product differentiation, and demographics.

The Kepler E-Business System: This helps with finding the differences in behavior with online and traditional retail environments for a variety of consumer product and service categories; and the development of cost-effective customer acquisition strategies.

Darwin E-Retail System: Companies can better attract key customer segments and perform customer evaluation (that is, determine how customers view the quality of service of the purchasing decision).

The financials, though, are not big. In the first quarter of 2000, the company had sales of $2.8 million, which was a 112% increase from the same period a year before. As for losses, they were $960,000 and the cash position is $33.4 million. The client list is 475 and repeat customers account for 50% of total revenues.

But it is likely that @Plan will probably be buyout bait. Interestingly enough, the company has already retained the investment bank of Veronis Suhler for strategic alternatives. And, there are a variety of possible suitors who would be interested in the product suite of @Plan, such as Nielsen/NetRatings or, yes, even Media Metrix .

Also, @Plan is expected to report its earnings report on Friday. You can see the chart at the internet.com Earnings Page.