December 14, 2005, 12:00 AM

Experian acquires shopping comparison site PriceGrabber for $485 million

With its purchase of PriceGrabber.com, Experian expands its marketing business portfolio in the industry’s third such acquisition of the year.

 

In the third major shopping comparison engine sale transaction in the past seven months, PriceGrabber.com has been purchased for $485 million plus expenses by Experian, a company that manages consumer credit information and marketing interactions for companies over the Internet.

The acquisition supports Experian’s strategy of acquiring complementary businesses that provide new products, new data or entry into new vertical or regional markets while leveraging the company`s core assets of deep roots in the consumer credit information business, the company says. PriceGrabber.com will become part of Experian Interactive, a growing portfolio of Internet marketing businesses that include LowerMyBills.com, CheetahMail, and online lead generation service MetaReward.

“We are pleased to welcome the talented people of PricerGrabber.com and their clients to the Experian family. Whether consumers are looking to better manage their credit, apply for a mortgage or make informed purchasing decisions, we provide the destinations to help them with those decisions while saving time and money,” said Ed Ojdana, group president of Experian Interactive.

In addition, PriceGrabber extends the range of marketing solutions Experian can offer to multi-channel retailers and cataloger clients.

The acquisition of PriceGrabber follows two other big-bucks deals involving shopping comparison engines that have occurred since this summer, In June, Shopping.com, the largest comparison-shopping site, was acquired by eBay Inc. for $620 million; and Shopzilla was acquired by The E. W. Scripps Co. for $525 million.

Consumers’ use of comparison shopping sites is expanding, with the Google and Yahoo search engines sending 25% more visits to the ten leading comparison engines for the week ending Nov. 19 than for the same period in 2004, according to data from Hitwise. For the week tracked, PriceGrabber ranked 7th among the engines, with a 5.81% market share versus the 18.3% share held by the most-visited that week, Shopping.com.

“As people discover these comparison shopping engines, they find them a useful tool to compare prices across multiple goods, items and sites," says Bill Tancer, general manager of research at Hitwise. Tancer notes that over the past two years, consumers` use of comparison shopping sites has expanded beyond their earlier use in a few categories such as electronics into a much broader array of goods.

Tancer also notes that over 50% of the traffic received by each major comparison sites is now from search engines, which are themselves, in a sense, competitors to the comparison sites.

“There is this ‘coopetition’ angle. You have sites like Google that are sending massive amounts of traffic to shopping comparison engines, but at the same time, Google has Froogle, its own comparison shopping engine,” Tancer says. “The next interesting thing to look at is going to be how prominent these search engines’ own comparison shopping offerings become, and how that coopetition battle plays out between the biggest advertisers, which are the comparison shopping sites, and their own comparison shopping offerings.”

 

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