Tuesday, May 8, 2007

As aQuantive goes, so goes online advertising

Time was when it was pretty easy to get a handle on growth in online agencies just by perusing the numbers of the dozen or so interactive shops who were independent—and publicly held. But these days, with even the once-fiercely independent Digitas swallowed into a much larger communications conglomerate, aQuantive, owner of Avenue A/Razorfish, is about the only game in town when it comes to seeing a pure, audited growth number. The Seattle-based company reported its numbers this morning, with growth in its digital marketing services of 51 percent or $83.1 million, compared to the first quarter last year. And while that doesn't mean that every interactive agency grew by as much, it does underscore that the online ad market is showing no signs of slowing down. The growth in aQuantive's Atlas and Accipter digital performance units (which compete with Google fiancee DoubleClick) was 130 percent, off a much smaller base ($9.3 million), but still. You look at these numbers and have to conclude that CEO Brian McAndrews' protestations to the contrary, aQuantive, as parts or a whole, will only be able to hold out so long before being somebody's catch of the day in terms of online marketing acquisitions. Still, McAndrews reportedly said on the earnings call: "We're a public company so anything can happen, but the reality is we're very focused on our clients and growing our business and growing as an independent company."

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