It seems that Bazaarvoice is no longer content with simply being a suped-up marketing analytics company. The competition in social media marketing is intensifying (think Salesforce’s acquisition of Buddy Media and Oracle’s purchase of Vitrue), with the bigs beginning to move into the space. So, today, the public company is officially beefing up its social commerce platform with advertising.
The Austin-based SaaS provider, which powers customer review and social commerce features for brands like Best Buy, Costco, Dell and Panasonic, announced this evening that it has acquired fast-growing eCommerce advertising network, Longboard Media.
The deal includes a combination of cash and stock, with Bazaarvoice paying $26.9 million in cash and dishing out 500K shares of stock to Longboard’s investors. The company’s share price on November 2nd brings the total value (cash plus stock) to just under $33 million. However, the terms of the deal also included some long-term incentives, meaning that, if Longboard is able to hit certain performance benchmarks by December 2013, investors could receive and additional $11 million in cash. That would bring the total value of the deal to right around $44 million.
Along with the acquisition of Longboard, the company’s board has also appointed a new CEO, as Chief Financial Officer Stephen Collins will replace co-founder and long-time CEO Brett Hurt atop the leadership chain.
The Longboard deal and executive shakeup follow Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of fellow customer reviews player, PowerReviews, back in May of this year, for $151 million. It could be that the board is looking for a fresh perspective in leadership, or really one that is focused on efficiency and working some magic on the balance sheets, thanks to its announcement in September that it had taken a first-quarter loss of $18.5 million (up from $5.5 million in the year prior), thanks in large part to the PowerReviews acquisition.
At the time, anti-trust suspicions swirled around the acquisition, with PowerReviews representing Bazaarvoice’s only real (direct) competition. What’s more, some saw the move as not only being expensive, but also defensive. The deal further delayed any real efforts at profitability post-IPO, thanks to what has seemed to be a lack of any substantial cost synergies.
Nonetheless, since going public in February of this year, Bazaarvoice has shown a willingness to be an active M&A player in the space, even if it results in short-term losses. The company’s market cap currently stands at around $895 million.
As to its latest acquisition, since its founding in 2008 by former eBay and Shopping.com employees Scott Engler and Jim Barkow, Longboard Media has become one of the largest ad networks in the eCommerce space. In September of last year, the company raised $6 million from Level Equity and has seen steady growth since, increasing its publisher base more than 40 percent in 2011.
Over time, the San Francisco-based startup has become a full-service media management network for retailers, publishers and advertisers, enabling its customers to launch and manage on-site advertising and monetization initiatives, among other things. Today, the company works with over 100 top brand advertisers that collectively reach some 100 million monthly unique users.
With over 2,000 of its own customers that include 20 percent of the Fortune 500, Bazaarvoice plans to leverage Longboard’s network to create a more “powerful consumer and business decision engine.” Essentially, the company’s review engine allows consumers to create and share ratings, reviews, questions, answers, etc. on both products and brands, then it syndicates that content across the Web. The idea is to influence purchase decisions, while providing its customers with intelligence on customers that can be used to improve marketing, R&D, operations and so on.
With Longboard in its stables, Bazaarvoice can offer its customers an extensive, eCommerce-focused ad network that is informed by the customer data it compiles through its ratings and review engine. And, presumably, provides brands with more depth in their site monetization strategies, allowing them to target customers across retail and publishing sites both online and on the Web.
For more info, find the acquisition announcement here.