e-Rewards acquires Peanut Labs for survey offers

e-Rewards has agreed to acquire research offer firm Peanut Labs for an undisclosed price. The result could be very disruptive for the alternative-payments business known as offers.

Dallas-based e-Rewards is the owner of Research Now, an online sampling and data collection company. Peanut Labs creates market research surveys that get lots of results because they are based on offers, or special ads that serve as alternative payments for game and app makers.

In social games, users are often asked to pay for virtual goods with real money. But not everyone has credit cards or wants to spend real money. In those cases, the game publishers use companies such as San Francisco-based Peanut Labs to generate revenue from users who would otherwise be lost opportunities. With Peanut Labs offers, users can fill out a research  survey instead of paying money. When they complete the survey, they are rewarded with the virtual goods that they wanted in the social game.

The deal is expected to close in October. Ali Moiz, (pictured) co-founder of Peanut Labs, said in an interview that the combined companies will be able to make much larger numbers of surveys available to users of social media. Chris Havemann, CEO of e-Rewards, said the acquisition will accelerate his company’s social media strategy.

Peanut Labs also has a separate business of fulfilling non-survey offers for users. Now Peanut Labs will no longer charge for non-survey CPA offer monetization (CPA refers to cost per action, or when an advertiser pays only if a user takes a certain action such as filling out a survey). The free offers for non-survey business will last through the end of 2010, and Peanut Labs will pay its partners all of the revenue earned from CPA offer transactions.

Moiz said the company can afford to give away the non-survey offer revenue to its partners because it will have much more inventory for research surveys and will make money from offer-related revenue for the research surveys. Other companies such as Offerpal Media and TrialPay make their revenue from offers. It remains to be seen if Peanut Labs’ strategy will disrupt traditional offers.

Peanut Labs has dealt with more than 240 million consumers since 2007, and its partners include game companies such as Bigpoint, RockYou, Pogo, PlaySpan, Nexon, Playdom, and Changyou. Peanut Labs has 35 employees. e-Rewards has more than 2,000 clients and 900 employees.

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