November 7, 2007 – TechTarget acquires KnowledgeStorm (see press release).
Confession: I never quite figured out KnowledgeStorm. They clearly were more than moderately successful in the marketplace (though I was surprised to read in the TechTarget press release that their annual revenues were only $12-14 million, a fraction of the $80 million forecasted by their new parent company.) I’ve long maintained the suspicion that what success they enjoyed was due more to pure diligence and market presence than to any unique value proposition. I struggle to think of even one client in the last two years or so that has reported a good experience, results-wise, with KnowledgeStorm. Anecdotally, lead quality seems to be the primary issue. Certainly, they rarely appeared on media plans that we developed – in our view, there are simply better, more competitive options in the marketplace.
As an online IT product directory, KnowledgeStorm made sense to an extent, if nothing else as an alternative to pure content syndication, particularly for clients in established product categories looking to attract prospects in the latter stages of the sales cycle. But then when TechTarget swallowed Bitipe, KnowledgeStorm got into the content syndication business as well, largely by picking up the CMP properties that had formed the bulk of the Bitpipe network and that had jumped ship after the acquisition (for competitive reasons; CMP regarded TechTarget as a publisher.)
Then KnowledgeStorm reinvented themselves again and began positioning the site as “vertical search” (even the TechTarget press release calls KnowledgeStorm “a leading search resource for IT professionals”). Maybe some advertisers bit, but to me the move was never more than a company doing its best to jump on the search bandwagon.
If the Bitpipe acquisition is any precedent, KnowledgeStorm will cease to exist in any meaningful way. Pre-acquisition, Bitpipe was a powerhouse lead generation vehicle – a media partner we could always count on to overperform for our clients. Then TechTarget came along, the CMP properties disappeared, and Bitpipe disappeared to the back pages of the TechTarget product catalog. We haven’t used them since.
For the technology advertiser, there are now dozens of viable, effective options – perhaps more – for content syndication. TechTarget – more power to them – clearly have an enormous presence in the marketplace. Their sales force is omnipresent, aggressive, and they do a heck of a job presenting their case.
Still, this is no longer 2004, and people have alternatives. Plenty of them. When Bitpipe disappeared, it changed the content syndication market forever, by opening up a huge competitive void into which a flood of new vendors entered. KnowledgeStorm is about to fade into the media sunset, and I for one think the impact will be negligible.
UPDATE: I have been advised (see comments) that KnowledgeStorm’s revenues last year were actually in excess of $20 Million. The $12-14 million figure was what TechTarget projects to gain from the business.