Tesco buys digital ‘word-of-mouth’ agency

Tesco has acquired digital world-of-mouth agency BzzAgent in a deal said to be worth $60m (£37m).


US-based BzzAgent specialises in word-of-mouth campaigns that it initiates by sending products and coupons to a sample of 800,000 “BzzAgents”.

The agents are chosen for their demographic profile and are encouraged to push the products among their network on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

BzzAgents later report back on their individual campaigns and the results are later analysed and passed back to clients.

Clients to have worked with BzzAgent in the past include Unilever, L’Oreal and Michelin.

BzzAgent insists it does not pay its agents and claims the agents declare their interest in the products to third parties.

The acquisition is being carried out by Tesco subsidiary Dunnhumby and will see BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter report directly to Simon Hay, Dunnhumby chief executive.

Hay says: “Not only does BzzAgent leverage a base of 800,000 influential customers in the word-of-mouth space, it is focused on measuring return on investment and the role of social media. Our focus has always been on building loyalty.

“With BzzAgent, we believe we can now help our clients understand advocacy and use this knowledge to earn more loyal customers for retailers and brands.”

All 60 full-time staff will be retained and the company will remain as a separate entity.

Tesco’s Clubcard scheme is run by Dunnhumby, which is also tasked with working with other retailers to create in-store marketing campaigns and loyalty shopper programmes.

The supermarket also recently bought online film streaming service Blinkbox.

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