YouGov PLC Acquires US Market Research

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New York – YouGov plc, a UK based market research company, is acquiring Harrison Group, a US marketing firm, for an initial consideration of US$6 million and an earn out of up to $7 million, subject to Harrison achieving performance targets.  YouGov, a publicly traded firm on the London Stock Exchange (YOU), has been expanding its international capabilities through acquisitions over the last four years in the U.S., Germany, Norway and Dubai.  YouGov works with institutional investors, who mainly leverage its online panels and syndicated studies in the consumer sector, although its primary customer base is corporations.

YouGov began expanding its US presence by purchasing in 2007 Palo Alto-based Polimetrix, a governmental polling firm with a panel of approximately 1,000,000 people in the US and Canada for around $17 million.  In April 2009, YouGov acquired Clear Horizons, a Princeton-based market research firm for $600,000 and a three year earn out worth up to $2.7 million.

The purchase of Harrison adds some popular syndicated studies, such as Harrison’s Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America and the newly released American Pantry study, but the primary goal is to beef up YouGov’s consulting capabilities for US corporations.  Harrison does its research mostly through online panels which were previously outsourced.  Going forward, it will use YouGov’s US panel, which it originally acquired with Polimetrix.  With the addition of Harrison, YouGov employees now number over 80 in the U.S., with more than 450 worldwide.

The $6 million purchase price represents a 6x multiple on 2010 EBITDA and a 0.6x revenue multiple on 2009 revenues of US$9.6 million.  If Harrison meets its EBITDA targets over 2011 and 2012, the total payout will be $13 million.

In 2007, YouGov acquired Zapera, an online market research firm focused on the Nordic region, for around $8 million, and a German market research firm, psychonomics, for around $20 million.  In 2006, YouGov acquired a Dubai-based market research firm, Siraj, for around $1.2 million with a three year earn out of up to $600,000.

In 2006, YouGov partnered with Execution Limited, a UK agency brokerage, to market primary research to institutional investors.  The joint venture ran for 18 months and was successful enough for YouGov to decide to go it alone by setting up its own sales and marketing staff for the buy-side.   YouGov marketed its offerings to the investment community as YouGovAlpha, but has since dropped the branding.   Nevertheless, it continues to actively market its online panels and syndicated research to the investors.

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