ComScore Buys M:Metrics for $44 Mil.+

NEW YORK ComScore has snatched up M:Metrics — one of the leading companies in the nascent market for third-party mobile media metrics — for a mix of cash and stock valued at $44.3 million.

The Seattle-based metrics firm, founded in 2004, has established an early leadership position in tracking broad use of mobile applications such as text-messaging, along with emerging media such as mobile Internet and video. M:Metrics’ leading competitor is Telephia, which was acquired by the Nielsen Co. in June 2007. (Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen.)

M:Metrics’ claimed points of differentiation are its global reach (it tracks data in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) and its breadth of products. In addition to syndicating macro-usage data, the company has introduced MeterDirect, a product that measures media consumption on 4,000 “smartphones” using a piece of software which is installed directly on mobile devices. M:Metrics also recently launched M:Ad, which tracks display advertising on phones in the U.S. and U.K. from a collection of top Web sites.

The deal escalates the already heated competition between Nielsen and comScore in the digital measurement space, as both strive to be able to offer advertisers and publishers comprehensive, multiplatform media measurement.

ComScore said it plans to increase the size of M:Metrics’ panel and will begin to offer clients integrated Web and mobile data. The timing is key, said executives, as mobile is set to grow rapidly in the coming years, particularly with the popularity of the iPhone and its copycats.

“With the substantial growth of 3G devices and Internet friendly handsets, we believe we are now at an inflection point in Internet usage on mobile devices,” said Magid Abraham, comScore’s president and CEO.  “Our acquisition of M:Metrics makes comScore an immediate market leader in this space and positions comScore to deliver significant shareholder value.”

M:Metrics president and CEO Will Hodgman, along with chief product architect Seamus McAteer, will join comScore’s management team.