IAR Bits and Bytes

aQuantive Continues Revenue, Profit Growth

Internet ad services firm aQuantive announced second-quarter results Wednesday, reporting strong revenue and profit growth as agencies upped their spending on Internet ad campaigns.

The company’s revenues were $52 million, a 71 percent increase from a year ago. Net income was $2.4 million, or 4 cents per share, up from the $1.8 million loss in the same period a year ago.

“We’re seeing agency clients spending more money,” said Brian McAndrews, aQuantive’s chief executive.

The solid growth in agency spending was offset somewhat by the news earlier this month that longtime Avenue A client AT&T Wireless had split from the interactive agency. McAndrews said AT&T Wireless was one of Avenue A’s largest clients.

“We were surprised and disappointed,” he said. “We’re very proud of what we did with AT&T Wireless and thought we helped them get great results online.”

In addition to Avenue A, aQuantive has an ad-serving unit, Atlas DMT, and a creative agency, iFrontier.

Atlas DMT ended the quarter with 88 clients and hit profitability for the first time. Atlas DMT is vying with DoubleClick to offer the best ad-serving capabilities for rich media ads. The unit released a number of improvements to its system this quarter, including a brand-exposure metric, as DoubleClick took the wraps off the beta version of DART Motif.

“The first big difference is we did a release and they didn’t,” McAndrews said, pointing out that DoubleClick failed to include an improved reporting system in Motif. The company plans to add multi-event reporting in November.

Overture Sews Up Sympatico

Overture Services announced on Wednesday that it won a full-service search deal with Canadian portal Sympatico.

Under terms of the two-year deal, Overture will provide algorithmic search, paid listings and paid inclusion for all English-language search. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal steals away a customer from Overture rival Google, which had previously provided Sympatico with search services, and also shows that Overture’s partner network isn’t withering in the wake of Yahoo’s agreement to buy it for $1.63 billion last week.

The algorithmic search will be handled by FAST, which Overture acquired five months ago. By the end of the year, Overture plans to roll out an integrated search product that combines FAST with Alta Vista, another search company bought by Overture. In addition, Overture will display five paid listings on the results page from its network of 100,000 advertisers. Finally, Sympatico will use paid inclusion, which Overture plans to officially unveil later this summer. With paid inclusion, advertisers pay to have their Web pages crawled.

Separate from the search deal, Sympatico signed up to use Overture’s Content Match, which displays text listings on relevant content pages. Content Match competes with Google’s AdSense and Sprinks in the emerging content-targeted listings market. Google announced the same day that Weather.com signed on to use AdSense.

MarketWatch.com Cuts Losses

Thanks to cost cutting, MarketWatch.com, publisher of CBS MarketWatch, said on Wednesday that it narrowed its losses in the second quarter.

The company brought in $11.1 million in the quarter, down 7 percent from the same period a year ago. However, thanks to lower expenses, its net loss narrowed to $209,000 million, compared to $4.1 million in last year’s second quarter.

The news of MarketWatch.com’s improved financial health was overshadowed by the company’s announcement of a $103 million deal to buy content syndication company Pinnacor. The acquisition is expected to further diversify the company’s mix of subscription and advertising-dependant products.

MarketWatch.com reported success in selling to advertisers outside of the financial industry. Ad revenues in the quarter were $5.4 million, flat from a year ago but up slightly from the second quarter. The company credited its paid search partnerships with Google and Sprinks with helping grow its revenues.

Much of the improved results, however, arose from belt tightening: operating expenses for the quarter were $7 million, down 34 percent from a year earlier.

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