Factiva, a Dow Jones and Reuters Company, has acquired the business and assets of 2B Reputation Intelligence Limited and Benchmarking Solutions Limited, a small London-based technology and consulting business specializing in media monitoring and reputation management. This acquisition, plus a recent agreement with Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) for search technologies, provides Factiva with the critical missing elements in its strategy to develop media monitoring and reputation management solutions for corporate communications and marketing professionals. Factiva will immediately begin servicing existing 2B customers; the company plans to integrate 2B's line of products and services into its planned Factiva Insight line of products. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Factiva had been working since fall 2003 with IBM WebFountain on developing its planned Factiva Insight for Reputation product (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16617). According to Clare Hart, president and CEO of Factiva, the companies jointly reached the conclusion that WebFountain was not the right platform for the application, due to the inherent demand for continuously updated current information.
Hart said the Insight for Reputation product had garnered a lot of customer interest during the development phase. The acquisition of 2B helps them accelerate getting out into the marketplace with a product based on human expertise, visualization tools, taxonomies, and text-mining technology. She said that Factiva and 2B have customers in common and that the two companies have been working together for about a year. Other companies that could have been potential partners in the reputation management product were either too technology-oriented or too people-oriented. She explained: "[Factiva and 2B] share a common philosophy—that it requires a combination of people skills, technology skills, domain expertise, and, of course, content."
Hart said that enhanced versions of the 2B products, beginning with media monitoring, will be launched before the end of the first quarter of 2005. The 2B products range from point-in-time snapshots, to daily/weekly/monthly updates, to full and continuous updates. They include unique data visualization tools that aid in understanding market perception and issues.
The Factiva Insight solution will monitor and analyze relevant Web content plus Factiva's proprietary collection of more than 9,000 sources. Hart stated: "Only the unique combination of human expertise, technology, and content will allow businesspeople to listen to the millions of conversations taking place on the Web and in the mainstream press, understand the patterns and trends that affect their organizations, and give them intelligence that they can act upon."
"We've learned from our experience working in the public relations sector that advanced text-mining capabilities and high-quality content are necessary elements to deliver leading-edge reputation management solutions," says Christopher Shaw, 2B's managing director. "Factiva's unrivalled content and its leadership in advanced text-mining technologies are a powerful complement to our strengths in data visualization and media benchmarking and will allow us to develop the next-generation solutions the marketplace demands."
The text-mining technologies will be enhanced when Factiva moves over to the FAST search engine. Hart said the company knew it needed to replace the AltaVista engine it has been using. FAST was chosen in late December as the best suited for Factiva's ongoing needs, which include massive content sets and intensive text-mining requirements. The Factiva service has migrated over the years to increasingly more sophisticated search technologies—from an initial home-grown system (for DJI), to several interim systems, and most recently to AltaVista. The FAST technologies are based on its FAST ESP enterprise search platform.
The acquisition of 2B also brings a team of analysts that provide assessment of tone and sentiment, said to be a critical aspect of effective media and reputation monitoring. 2B's employees (fewer than 20), comprising executives in London, developers in Sofia, Bulgaria, and analysts in Cape Town, South Africa, will be joining Factiva.
Factiva's acquisition of 2B raises some interesting questions about ongoing partner relationships. 2B had been partnering for content with Thomson Dialog and Moreover. In turn, Factiva has had partnerships with some of 2B's competitors, such as Biz 360 (which also partners with Thomson Dialog, LexisNexis, and others).
This announcement of Factiva's acquisition and move into reputation management products for corporate communications and marketing professionals follows an announcement made the prior week of two new products aimed at sales professionals. Factiva SalesWorks and Factiva Companies & Executives are new sales productivity solutions. Hart said that, in addition to Factiva's horizontal business information and news service offering, the company is focused on providing services around content use in specialized areas, such as marketing/communications and sales. She said the company is now targeting six key marketing segments: information professionals, IT professionals, compliance professionals, C-level executive decision makers, sales, and marketing.