aQuantive Acquires Go Toast

Atlas DMT, the advertising technology division of aQuantive , declared its firm commitment to the search business Monday, announcing the purchase of Go Toast, a provider of paid search management and optimization tools.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The profitable company brought in between $3 and $4 million in revenues in 2003, according to aQuantive, and the acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings.

The deal adds an important component to Atlas DMT’s product suite, as paid search grows more important to digital marketers while simultaneously growing more technology-dependent. Jupiter Research, which shares a parent company with this publication, has predicted that the paid search market will grow to $4.3 billion in revenues by 2008. This year, Jupiter analysts said, paid search will bring in $1.6 billion.

“Our customers have been using search and buying keywords for years, and primarily use Atlas DMT for the tracking piece. But we haven’t had the functionality to manage bidding strategy,” said Atlas DMT vice president, strategy and product management Karl Siebrecht.

Go Toast provides technology that lets advertisers manage thousands of keywords and search engine marketing campaigns simultaneously. The company’s tools include a bidding engine, conversion tracking tools, Web analytics and automated search campaign management. Go Toast works with search engines including Google AdWords, Yahoo!’s Overture, and Espotting. Denver-based Go Toast will keep its brand identity and will continue to be headed up by founder and CEO Dave Carlson, though it will operate as a unit of Atlas DMT.

Atlas DMT is incorporating these tools into the Atlas Digital Marketing Suite, which will create a central reporting and analytics platform. The Suite, which has just been released in a 4.0 version, combines functions for media planning and buying; creative management; ad serving and tracking; and analysis and optimization. Siebrecht said that he expected existing Atlas clients to begin using the enhanced Atlas suite, while Go Toast clients would continue using their familiar tools.

“Go Toast has a strong brand in its customer segment that is quite different than the one Atlas serves,” he said. Go Toast has a wide range of clients that includes small marketers, for example, Yahoo! Stores and merchants. “We don’t want to have any negative impact on that, or to change anything too quickly,” he said.

Atlas DMT and Go Toast have been working together for months, and for the past three months have run a beta test on the Atlas/Go Toast platform integration involving half a dozen merchants. Initially, the companies are working on rolling Go Toast’s conversion tracking technology into that of Atlas, so that Atlas marketers’ tracking data is automatically fed into the Go Toast system to track conversion from keyword advertising. Siebrecht expects the integration to be complete within three months. Then, the company will begin combining workflow management tools.

“This is a very smart deal for both Atlas and Go Toast,” said Nate Elliott, associate advertising analyst for Jupiter Research. “The ad servers have been struggling to find an opening in search marketing, and Atlas has now gotten a leg up by acquiring one of the leaders in that space. At the same time, this deal brings Go Toast additional resources and experience, plus access to a solid new sales channel.”

Elliott said that the growth in paid search will be powered by large marketers — and Atlas can help bring those marketers to Go Toast. “If Atlas can effectively integrate Go Toast into their toolset, it would give them a competitive advantage over what’s available in the marketplace today,” he said.

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