Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Would Google buy Experian?

Google's next acquisition will make the headlines. Google always does. Being the geek that I am - it's sometimes fun to mull over which will be the next big name that Google might buy. Will it be Iron Mountain? What about Experian?

Experian is a huge company and the market leader in the United Kingdom. Experian keeps track of individual's credit records. If I want to buy a house or get a credit card then the bank will check with Experian to find out whether I'm known to be bad at paying bills or whether I've a good record of paying on time.

Experian, therefore, holds a lot of information. Google tends to be hungry for information. Is it the type of information that Google wants? Well. That's a trickier one. It's certainly not the type of information that Google normally goes for but then we have Google Health which proves the exception to the rule. Google Health does touch on aggregating some of this "flavour" of data.

I think there would be more drama and concerns about privacy if Google did buy Experian. In theory, Google could begin to investigate ways in which to target high value AdWords to people who have a history of splashing the cash. I think that, though, would be too much for many Googlers to stomach.

There is another angle.

Experian owns Hitwise.

Now Hitwise and its data certainly would seem to be the type of company Google would be interested in buying. This begs the question; why didn't Google buy Hitwise?

If you've been lucky enough to attend a presentation by one of Google's vertical account managers then you'll have noticed just how often they can lean on Hitwise data. It may be that Google didn't know that Hitwise was for sale. It may also have been the case that Hitwise simply didn't approach Google. I'm reminded of the comment Seregy recently gave to the press about Facebook.
We don’t really look at companies for acquisitions unless they are really interested.

It may also be the case that Google does not need Hitwise's data. They may have it all anyway. They just don't share it. They certainly don't brand it up and allow Googlers to present with it - not even to huge international brands. In this case it may even be quite handy to have the independent Hitwise source of some data. Google therefore avoids the situation were they are seen to giving some of their data to some clients and withholding it from others.

I'll stick my next out. "Will Google buy Experian?" I think it's a juicy question to mull over. It'll be interesting times if Google does buy the company. I don't think they will. I think Experian is too big, too expensive, too controversial and maybe even too old (even though it only recently detached itself from GUS). I think Google may get better value from Hitwise by keeping them out of Google's growing family of brands.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

GDay,

Hitwisers would have an interesting name card if it did happen and long one at it: Hitwise an Experien Company which is now a Google Company

I have to wonder though of the many times they heard about HW going NasDaq, why did they not offer HW a few hundred million dollars ... What's a few bobs (thats Aussie lingo for dollars) for Google anyway .. spare cash stuck in the crack of the sofa?

Now they need to fork out some real moula in the order of magnitude of the YouTube acquisition so it wont be that easy to find that much spare change to buy Experien but it would be an excellent strategic move that would put a few more Google "fingers" into more digital "pies".

If I were Google, anyway, I would make that decision to acquire Experien.