I promise that at some point I'll use this blog to write about more than M&A in the social media technology space. But the constantly shifting vendor landscape keeps me too busy to get to other pressing topics.

Today, Maritz Reserch announced its acquisition of evolve24. Through this move, Martiz adds strong social media analysis capabilities to its broader customer experience and market research offerings. The two have a long-standing partnership and know how to work well together and combine forces. The terms of the acquisition suggest that evolve24 will stay strongly intact as an offering within the Maritz umbrella.

I reviewed evolve24 as part of my recent Forrester Wave™ evaluation of listening platforms and cited the vendor as offering strong data analysis capabilities — something that surely stood out for Maritz. To rely on social media as a data source, Maritz must have an exepctionally clean stream — a critical focus for evolve24. Firms aiming to understand their customers' experiences require a broad data set, but without quality, breadth is worthless.

One of the big takeaways from this move is what it means to the market research community. My experience talking with market researchers is that they're especially curious about social media but also strongly skeptical of its validity as a data source. Their reluctance is fair (and skepticism is expected, they are professional researchers), but social media is a disruptive force providing market researchers with a vast amount of potential. Now, through this acquisition, Maritz legitimizes the approach and will offer its customers a more controlled way to address social media — built into the larger research offering.

My colleague Tamara Barber wrote an excellent report earlier this year titled "How Can Market Researchers Get Social?" — covering the different ways market researchers can use social media. Through evolve24, Maritz will be able to provide much of this, including access to social media sample and the ability to conduct real-time analysis of customer segments. Maritz also offers broader customer experience research, something incredibly important to monitor through social media.

Congratulations to both parties. This is a good move for both Maritz and evolve24 — as well as a good move for the market research world in terms of embracing the power of social media data.