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RealTime IT News

Gomez Advisors to Make National Push

For three years, execs at Gomez Advisors have worked like monks. But with $30 million in third-round financing and an eye toward an IPO, they're about to break their vow of silence.

The Lincoln-based firm, which rates e-commerce operations and sells research through its Web site, will spend $8 million on a national marketing campaign. The purpose, in ad-man parlance, is to "establish its brand."

"The message we want to get across is that we are the e-commerce authority for consumers and businesses who want to make smart decisions online," said Jackie Price, a Gomez spokeswoman.

To differentiate itself from competitors in a crowded field of IT research firms, Gomez has hired DiMassimo Brand Advertising, a New York agency that last year added three Internet companies (Edu.com, kozmo.com and SmartMoney.com) to its list of offline clients (Tommy Hilfiger).

DiMassimo develops ads for a range of mediums -- TV, radio and the Internet, as well as bus-side signs and billboards. It isn't clear what the mix will be for Gomez, but some TV spots are expected.

In coming weeks, Gomez and DiMassimo representatives will meet to determine what tone to take. The first ads could be delivered in late March.

Mark DiMassimo, the agency's founder, said the challenge with Gomez is to educate consumers.

"A lot of insiders and analysts know how great the site is," DiMassimo said. "But too many consumers think about them as a character from 'The Addams Family.' "

The company's most recent financing -- led by BancBoston Ventures, Softbank, HarbourVest Partners, Dolphin Communications Partners, John Hancock Global Technology Fund, West End Venture Partners and Boston financier Paul Palandjian -- will not be spent entirely on image. The company raised about $6 million in two previous rounds.

Gomez will also invest in staff and technology. The company employs about 100 people, most of whom work in the Lincoln headquarters, and is hiring for positions from researchers to receptionists.

The company, which is partially owned by Philadelphia-based Ashton Technology Group Inc. , is carefully considering its next move, be it another round of financing or an IPO. The decision will depend in large part on market conditions, which are currently a mixed bag for the sector.