DoubleClick in merger talks with 24/7

The acquisitive online ad sales company DoubleClick is believed to be in merger talks with its rival 24/7 Media.

The acquisitive online ad sales company DoubleClick is believed to

be in merger talks with its rival 24/7 Media.



Neither company would comment on reports that talks were taking place

between DoubleClick founder Kevin O’Connor and 24/7 executives in Los

Angeles.



Sheema Gulab, marketing and PR manager at 24/7 in the UK, said: ’We’re

not at liberty to discuss this, but the speculation reflects our strong

position in the market. It was inevitable that we would be looked

at.’



If the deal goes ahead it would put DoubleClick in a virtually

unassailable position in the UK. Its other two nearest competitors are

Real Media and Engage.



Earlier this year, DoubleClick bought out another rival, NetGravity,

leading to a share-swap deal valued at dollars 530 million. The 24/7

deal would be worth dollars 1.5 billion.



Internet investment company CMGI also has its eye on 24/7. It recently

acquired search engine Alta Vista and needs more sales staff to help it

pull advertising onto the service. In recent months it has snapped up

the web advertising companies AdForce, AdSmart and Flycast.



Media Metrix, a new-media market research body, says 24/7 and Flycast

are tied at third place in terms of reach, each representing sites with

around 36 million users, or more than 50 per cent of web viewers. Yahoo!

and Microsoft’s MSN occupy the top two slots.



’We’re seeing a wave of consolidation in the internet sector,’ one

observer commented. ’In the mid-90s, dozens of independent online ad

agencies were founded and now they’re swallowing each other up. This

suits advertisers, who want to target as many leading sites as they can

through a single representative.’



Based in New York, 24/7 is a publicly traded company with offices in 28

cities across 15 countries. DoubleClick has been expanding rapidly

across the globe, moving into 17 countries in less than 18 months. It is

currently setting up shop in Latin America and Asia (Campaign Media

Business, 4 October).



Andy Mitchell, the company’s UK managing director, said it would soon

have 1,200 employees. ’This is impressive given that it is only three

years old,’ he said. Mitchell was unable to comment on the merger

speculation.



DoubleClick has also recently acquired the direct marketing company

Abacus Direct, giving it access to purchasing data on 88 million

households.



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