ComScore Buys Mobile Research Firm M:Metrics For $44.3 Million In Cash

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imageWell-known Internet measurement firm comScore said today that it has acquired M:Metrics, a leader in the mobile measurement business, for $44.3 million in cash and the issuance of approximately 50,000 options to purchase shares of comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) common stock. The sale of M:Metrics is a testament that mobile is no longer a niche, but a standalone industry that must be measured and tracked much like TV and Internet audiences are today. In addition, one of the hurdles frequently mentioned as a reason why mobile has yet to really skyrocket is the lack of a trusted measurement standard. Perhaps that will change, not only with the sale of M:Metrics, but with other consolidation. About a year ago, Nielsen, the big media and measurement firm, solidified its position in mobile by paying $440 million for M:Metrics’s competitor Telephia. Its research reports the latest trends that operators, marketers and publishers all use to direct their businesses. For example, when people were curious about mobile browsing habits, it reported that in the U.S., consumers spent more time on Craigslist than any other site. In determining whether the iPhone was living up to its hype, the company said the iPhone was the most popular device for accessing news and information on the mobile Web. Over the last year, it’s also reported that the football season drove more mobile Web usage; that more camera phones were being sold and that mobile music was growing. Release.

Lots more after the jump

There’s not a lot of information yet on how the deal got closed, but apparently about a year ago, WPP, a marketing company and investor in M:Metrics, was interested in buying the company. Our sources said the deal was close to being completed when WPP got spooked by a lawsuit filed by Telephia, claiming patent infringement. Once the judge threw out the lawsuit in a summary judgment, M:Metrics re-opened negotiations, this time with multiple companies. ComScore apparently moved fast to close the deal.

Founded in early 2004, the Seattle-based company first started to track the mobile-phone industry by conducting surveys. Then, it started using meters, which is a piece of software that can track a person’s behavior on the phone. The Seattle-based company was founded by Will Hodgman and Seamus McAteer. Previously, Hodgman founded AdRelevance, an online measurement standard that was sold to Jupiter Media (NSDQ: JUPM) Metrix. McAteer was formerly a mobile analyst at the Zelos Group and Jupiter Research. The company boosts more than 200 customers that purchase its data, which measures mobile consumption in the U.S., Europe and China. It also measures mobile advertising, a promising market often criticized for the lack of available information. M:Metrics is backed by I-Hatch Ventures, Prism Venture Partners and Kantar Group, a division of WPP.

From comScore: The company said it will increase the size of M:Metrics’ metered panel and will offer combined results across internet usage from both PCs mobile phones. The combination of the two companies is expected to result in substantial operating synergies, cost savings and enhanced revenue growth by building a larger customer base, combining two sales forces and leveraging comScore

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