Monday, November 19, 2007

TechTarget Acquires KnowledgeStorm: The Impact on B2B Lead Generation

On November 7, TechTarget announced that it had acquired KnowledgeStorm for $58 million. The acquisition gives TechTarget--which gives them, in addition to their own huge opt-in base and network of portal sites, access to KnowledgeStorm's 800,000 subscribers, web properties and partners sites.

This is a clear win for TechTarget, and a loss for at least some KnowledgeStorm employees (a number of very talented people have already left the company, voluntarily or otherwise). It may also be a win for smaller players in the white paper and thought-leadership content syndication space, including NetLine and Insight24 (which syndicates webcasts, video and podcasts). Even TechTarget (reluctantly) concedes that there will likely be current KnowledgeStorm content partners seeking new syndication sources.

The same week, CNet announced its acquisition of FindArticles, significantly expanding its content network.

Around the blogosphere, Barry Graubart at Content Matters argues that "TechTarget had previously acquired KnowledgeStorm competitor BitPipe, so they now have a solid lock on the IT white paper and lead gen market." (I suspect the folks at ITToolbox would disagree.) Marji at InfoCommerce Group believes "The combination of content and resources from both KnowledgeStorm and TechTarget should be win-win for the companies and the customers they serve (both content-seeking professionals and lead-seeking advertisers)." And Melissa Chang at sixteenthletter got some lively comment response to her statement that "With KnowledgeStorm and Bitpipe (TechTarget’s lead gen engine) teaming up, this leaves four major players: the Web Buyer’s Guide (Ziff Davis), IDG Connect, BNET (from CNET) and the KnowledgeStorm/Bitpipe combo."

Supplier consolidation is rarely good for consumers (in this case, B2B media buyers). However, there are still enough competitors in this space to provide buyers with some leverage; there is as of yet no player that dominates online B2B lead generation in the way that Google dominates search engine advertising. The consolidation of vendors will also simplify B2B media buying to some degree.

The M&A activity in B2B media mirrors acquisition activity on the online consumer marketing side, nicely covered on MediaPost by Tim Vanderhook. Vanderhook contends that consumers will be the winners in that battle, writing "If the ads they see are relevant to who they (consumers) are, what they are interested in, and where they are located, it becomes a win-win for all parties in the chain." It remains to be seen whether the same will hold true for business buyers.


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