Aptimus To Acquire XMarkstheSpot

Online direct marketer Aptimus said Monday that it intends to boost its offer-serving technology by acquiring Internet pay-for-acquisition marketer XMarkstheSpot.

San Francisco-based XMarkstheSpot aggregates registration rewards from advertisers. Users register once on the company’s site and select preferences; XMarkstheSpot then displays targeted discounts, cash prizes or other offers from advertisers, which users can receive in return for registering on the advertisers’ sites.

Importantly for Aptimus, XMarkstheSpot also hosts the system for publishers, allowing Web sites to offer deals and earn a portion of the CPA fees.

XMarkstheSpot uses a proprietary technology to target, serve and handle registration for the rewards; Aptimus said it expects that technology will help it support its deal distribution network.

That network comes as the result of Seattle-based Aptimus’ efforts to reinvent itself and retool its business, following a third quarter earnings warning in October.

Formerly called FreeShop, the company announced a name change and a new ASP-like strategy, under which it sells, hosts and distributes its advertisers’ reward offers across a network of Web publishers. This is a change from its old system, which handled offers only on its wholly-owned properties, which include FreeShop.com, Desteo.com and Catalogsite.com.

The company’s network publishing partners, which receive a cut of CPA revenues generated by placements on their sites, include content portal plays About.com, iVillage and NBC Internet. Aptimus also has a partnership with affiliate marketer BeFree, giving it access to a network of more than 75,000 specialized Web sites and e-mail channels on which it can serve offers.

“Our network model has already proven to be very powerful, and XMarkstheSpot will help us speed the development of our network,” said Aptimus chairman and chief executive officer Tim Choate.

Under terms of Monday’s deal, most of San Francisco-based XMarkstheSpot’s staff will stay on and remain in that office. Financial details of the arrangement were not released. Aptimus said it would release revised financial models following the deal’s closing, which is expected within a week pending regulatory approval.

XMarkstheSpot president and CEO Scott Rozic said Monday’s deal will also raise the profile of the CPA marketing model.

“Our proprietary opt-in serving technology will give Aptimus a head start in its new network endeavor,” Rozic said. “By joining forces, we are positioned to make cost-per-action direct marketing the first choice for marketers of all kinds seeking to acquire new customers.”

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