AOL Buys Euro Ad Management Firm, Aims to Build Publisher Clients

On the heels of its acquisition of mobile ad network Third Screen Media, AOL said it has taken a controlling interest in German ad management firm AdTech AG. AOL signaled the buy would enhance its ad management capabilities, particularly those offered to its Advertising.com publisher clients.

Neither AOL nor AdTech would speak to ClickZ News regarding the deal. However, Advertising.com President Lynda Clarizio said in a statement, “AdTech is a perfect complement to Advertising.com’s display, video and affiliate advertising networks, letting us provide publishers with a single-source solution for ad management and monetization.”

The ad management company will retain its home base in Frankfurt, and operate as an independent and majority-controlled subsidiary of Advertising.com. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ever since Google sent shockwaves through the online ad industry a month ago by acquiring ad management powerhouse DoubleClick for the hefty sum of $3.1 billion, the ad management business has enjoyed a resurgence in relevance and speculation.

Companies including ad tech firm Eyeblaster have focused more on developing ad management products recently, and industry pundits continue to wonder whether further acquisitions or partnerships are in the works for well-established ad management platforms like aQuantive’s Atlas, 24/7 Real Media, ValueClick’s Mediaplex and Bluestreak.

It is unclear how the AdTech grab will affect AOL’s relationship with DoubleClick. DoubleClick extended its ad management partnership with AOL in April 2005, winning business across all AOL Media Networks properties including AOL.com, AOL Instant Messenger, CNN, Mapquest and Moviefone.

Although insiders say AOL’s integration with DoubleClick’s platform took a laborious two years, since Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, some have questioned what will become of the alignment. The portal publisher’s purchase of Euro-centric AdTech offers a glimpse into what may become of AOL’s dealings with DoubleClick. If AdTech’s technology satisfies all AOL’s ad management needs, the firm eventually may no longer require DoubleClick’s services.

Since moving into the U.S. market less than a year ago, AdTech has aimed to compete directly with DoubleClick for publisher and agency clients. In February, AdTech scored A&E Television Networks as an ad management client, stealing that account away from German platform provider Falk eSolutions. Falk was snapped up by DoubleClick last year.

The prospect of AOL, Google, Microsoft or Yahoo offering campaign management platforms has some worried. (Yahoo recently purchased ad exchange platform Right Media and won ad serving privileges for its Panama platform on Viacom properties.) An upheaval in this once seemingly settled industry space by the emergence of new systems from well-respected firms has some concerned about industry fragmentation and a lack of standards for campaign tracking, measurement and reporting.

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