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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports

1 Nov, 2008 By: Thomas Haire, Jacqueline Renfrow Response

WPP Buys TNS for $1.93 Billion

NEW YORK — Media holding company WPP Group PLC ended a six-month struggle to acquire the marketing research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) in mid-October by agreeing on a $1.93 billion buyout, reports

TNS, a long-time research partner of Response (see this month's short-form media billings on page 20), has fought to avoid the acquisition and rejected several of WPP's initial bids. But last month, the executives changed their minds and began urging shareholders to accept the deal. On the final vote, WPP had support for the deal from 83 percent of its investors and announced its offer to be unconditional.

TNS originally believed the offer was too low, stating that it had strong leadership in the market sector and finished the first half of 2008 with a strong financial performance.

In September, WPP extended its deadline for TNS to accept its offer of $2.2 billion for the third time. At that point, management was still urging shareholders to reject the offer. But as many as 34 percent of the outstanding shareholders were in favor of the acquisition as October approached, up from 11 percent just two weeks prior.

For WPP, the acquisition of TNS means that it will be able to offer more sophisticated services to clients and help them more efficiently measure the effectiveness of advertising efforts. "We are delighted to be a step closer to welcoming such a fine company with strong people, clients and brands that will enhance our client offering," says Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP.

Other recent deals in the marketing analytics industry include the Nielsen Company acquiring IAG Research in April and Forrester Research Inc. acquiring JupiterResearch LLC in July.

Date Set for Response Expo 2009

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) and Response Magazine present the third annual Response Expo, May 19-21, 2009 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

All-access badges must be purchased to attend any and all seminar sessions and networking events. Prior to April 25, badge rates are: $395 for DRMA members; $595 for non-DRMA members. After April 25, rates are: $495 for DRMA members; $795 for non-DRMA members. Expo hall only badges are free through April 25, and $50 after April 25. Visit for more information or to register for the event.

Visa Launches New Mobile Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO — Visa Inc. will make mobile payment services broadly available to U.S. customers by the end of the year by using Google's operating platform Android. The partnership will also open the door for Visa to take advantage of new marketing technologies.

The first set of services developed for Android will allow Chase Visa cardholders to opt in and receive notifications to their mobile device about activity on their accounts; get special deals from marketers; and use a locator feature — powered by Google Maps — to find the location of the nearest retailer offering the deal. Deals from marketers will show up on phones as logos. When the user clicks on the logo, a coupon pops up that can be redeemed just by showing the screen to the retailer.

Following the initial launch, Visa will work in additional card-issuing financial institutions to extend Android to their Visa account holders. Visa is also working on an application that will enable customers to make mobile payments in retail locations nationwide or over wireless networks.

"By developing these mobile services for the Android platform, Visa has taken a major step toward achieving our goal of combining two of the world's most powerful and ubiquitous consumer innovations, electronic payments and mobile technology," says Elizabeth Buse, global head of product at Visa Inc. "Through this effort, U.S. consumers will, for the first time, be able to download Visa mobile service applications directly to their handsets."

No marketing partners have been announced yet but merchants will include both brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

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