Engage Drops I/PRO Unit

Continuing its efforts to slim down, online ad network Engage is exiting the site-side research and analytics space by selling its I/PRO subsidiary to a Massachusetts-based content technology firm.

As a result of the sale, Woburn, Mass.-based TopicalNet will combine I/PRO’s site measurement, customer analytics, and online audit services with its own products, which automatically analyze and classify digital content. The acquisition gives it control of I/PRO’s NetLine tool, which tracks and analyses site visitor activity, and I/PRO’s site auditing product, I/AUDIT.

The agreement, of which financial terms were not disclosed, is expected to close in mid-April.

For the past several months, Andover, Mass.-based Engage — which is majority owned by holding company CMGI — has been restructuring its businesses to reduce costs and cut losses. In December, the company announced that it would lay off half its staff by next month. Since then, Engage has renegotiated contracts with many of its Web publishers to reduce the amount of commissions it pays out.

During executives’ last conference call with analysts and investors, Engage also said it is increasing consultant utilization rates, reducing ad serving costs by combining ad serving platforms, and “implementing strategies for liquidating unsold advertising inventory.”

The company’s president and chief executive, Tony Nuzzo, also has said that Engage’s business would gradually be retooled around its multichannel marketing solutions and digital media-management businesses in the future — programs that the company debuted earlier this year.

“The sale of I/PRO is another step in Engage’s continuing effort to restructure its business by focusing on its strategic products — software and media that allow marketers to synchronize their messages across online and offline channels,” Nuzzo said in a statement Wednesday.

Meanwhile, TopicalNet said it would pick up where Engage is leaving off.

“Bringing I/PRO under the TopicalNet umbrella is a strategic and synergistic move for us,” said TopicalNet chief executive Ray Kingman. “By combining I/PRO’s leading Web analytics product lines with TopicalNet’s patented, scalable classification technology, we believe we can offer our customers unparalleled intelligence and contextual commerce tools enabling them to better monitor visitor activity and modify site content based on user interests.”

The company said it plans to merge its own content-categorization technology with I/PRO’s I/AUDIT’s psychographic and demographic profiling of site visitors and NetLine clickstream data — enabling TopicalNet clients to automatically deliver interest-targeted content and ads to anonymous users.

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