AOL has acquired buy.at, a leading affiliate marketing network backed by VC house DFJ Esprit. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but well-placed sources say the deal is worth in the region of £75 million ($150 million). Although launched in the UK buy.at now has a growing US operation, which is what attracted AOL’s interest. Buy.at is the fifth advertising company AOL has acquired in the past year. Others are TACODA, ADTECH, Third Screen Media and Quigo. These deals indicate AOL’s concentration on ad serving aspects as opposed to buy.at’s closer relationship to retailers. AOL is understood to have tried to buy another affiliate network, Tradedoubler, a year ago but the deal foundered with the latter’s shareholders, who couldn’t agree on price.
Launched in 2002, buy.at will now operate as a wholly-owned business unit of Advertising.com, part of AOL’s Platform-A organization, to which buy.at’s pay-per-action alternative to traditional ad campaigns will bring a performance-based element. Buy.at has also made a special play into the arena of marketing on social networks, which will be a key tool for AOL as it tries to build its platform.
My sources tell me the deal is very much about global expansion of buy.at’s expertise, since the UK is now considered a world leader in online marketing and actually ahead of the US in terms of sophistication. Out of total ad-spend, online spend here is proportionately higher than in US.
Owned by Perfiliate Technologies, buy.at has 70 employees in Newcastle, UK and NYC and has over 200 e-commerce businesses as clients.