comScore Nabs Media Metrix

Jupiter Media Metrix has sold the online audience measurement half of its business to rival comScore Networks, bringing the troubled Internet consultancy a step closer to completely dismantling and selling off its various units.

Through the arrangement, comScore paid New York-based Jupiter $1.5 million in cash for the North American assets of Media Metrix, including its 60,000-member research panel. The acquisition is effective immediately.

Reston, Va.-based comScore, which entered the online metrics fray in earnest last year through a marketing partnership with DoubleClick , said the purchase would beef up its business. While it functions similarly to Media Metrix in measuring site traffic, comScore’s research and markteing services — which draws from its netScore panel of about 1.5 million participants — is positioned chiefly as a tool to analyze Web surfers’ online buying and transactional behavior.

As a result, comScore President and Chief Executive Magid Abraham said the two services should complement each other.

“Media Metrix, having created the industry, is a recognized standard in Internet audience measurement,” Abraham said. “The combination of usage and buying behavior create compelling applications for planning, executing and measuring online marketing initiatives by advertisers, publishers and advertising agencies. Together, we will deliver outstanding value to our clients, and accelerate our momentum in becoming the global source of record for the analysis of online behavior.”

The company plans to merge the unit into its Media Solutions Division, which markets netScore. The unit also will sell Audience Insite Measures, an interactive media planning tool launched by Jupiter earlier this year, and which comScore also acquired through the purchase. The division will be re-named Media Metrix, to capitalize on the substantial brand equity associated with the name.

The unit will be overseen by Peter Daboll, who previously served as president of comScore’s Media Solutions Division. In addition, a number of Jupiter Media Metrix employees are expected join comScore’s planned office in New York City.

The news comes on the heels of comScore’s separate announcement that it has closed a new round of funding, bringing in about $20 million. It tapped a portion of that sum for the Media Metrix purchase.

New investor Topspin Partners led the financing round, which is comScore’s fourth. Topspin was joined by new investor vSpring Capital and existing investors Accel Partners, JP Morgan Partners/Flatiron Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, Lehman Brothers Venture Fund and Adams Street Partners.

After the Jupiter payoff, comScore said the remainder of its new funding would be used to fuel the company’s continued growth and to fund new “strategic opportunities.”

Jupiter, meanwhile, now consists of only the Jupiter Research unit. The company — which plans a name change to reflect the sell-off — continues to look for a buyer or financier, to “ensure that the brand and the products and the people remain in the marketplace,” said spokesperson Susan Hickey.

Jupiter previously had attempted to merge with rival NetRatings late last year, but the purchase was nixed by federal regulators.

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