Will 2005 Bring More SEM Acquisitions?

I bet a friend last year that no, ad agencies are not going to swoop in and eat up all the search marketing firms out there. Hmm — might have to pay out. Actually,
I’ll still stand by my guns that there’s long going to be a place for the standalone search marketing shop.

Still, yesterday’s purchase of iProspect has people wondering if there will be more buy-ups. DMNews.com looks at this in
iProspect Deal Could Ignite Agency Buying Frenzy with various quotes.

It’s also a good time for me to take some of the past acquisitions and make a nice
little chart, as I love charts so much:


SEM Firm


Bought By







Jan. 2005


$8 million



Dec. 2004


$8 million




Aegis Group


Dec. 2004


$50 million


eXact Advertising

Sept. 2004



Decide Interactive


24/7 Real Media


Aug. 2004


$26 million

Global Promoter


June 2004








May 2004


$65 million




Digital Impact


July 2004


$4 million



June 2004


$5 million


Go Toast/


(for Atlas DMT division)


Dec. 2003






Avenue A/Razorfish
(formerly Avenue A)


Dec. 2002



Website Results

24/7 Real Media
(formerly 24/7 Media)


Dec. 2000


$95 million




WPP’s Outrider
(part of mediaedge:cia)


March 2000


$2 million+

(formerly Advanced

WPP’s Mindshare
(part of mOne)






(part of WPP’s mediaedge:cia)


June 1998



I’ve tried to stick with companies that were pretty firmly in the search marketing space from a service perspective that were consumed by traditional or semi-traditional agencies. Some of these
we had yesterday, and I came across a nice article by Fredrick Marckini listing a few more: SEM
Predictions for 2004 (The SEM CEO’s View)

Fredrick, of course, is founder and CEO of iProspect — so he fulfills his prediction of three-to-six SEM acquisitions in 2004 by getting his own company bought (and
congrats, Fredrick).

Some other notes. Tempus bought a stake in MMG beginning in June 1998 to form a core part of its
Outrider division. It looks like it gained the entire company from founder John Audette in Spring 2000 (side note:
Bend, Oregon, where MMG operated from, remains a hot bed of SEM activity from those who later left the company).

Tempus also bought 75 percent of WGI in
2000 for $1.5 million and the rest apparently in April 2002 for some amount I can’t locate. So, I’ve called it $2 million plus. Also, by this point Tempus had been
bought by WPP — which operates Mediaedge:cia — of which Outrider is the digital marketing unit. So, I’m sticking with Outrider as the “purchaser” for both MMG and WGI.

Ready to sell your own firm or buy one? You might want to check out our past SearchDay article, How Much is a Search Marketing Firm Worth?

Finally, a reminder for those interested in things related to acquisitions and revenues. Search Engine Watch
members have access to categorized lists of stories on these topics stretching back
for years, within our Search Topics area.

Our search revenues category covers material of all types relating
to revenues in the search space, while our search acquisitions
covers items relating to the purchasing and mergers of companies.

Postscript: I’ve added some WebSourced acquisitions and links in the chart provide more info. Value for Global Promoter involves some shares that can be earned
over a two year period, so initial payout is shown. MarketSmart is actually an ad firm, rather than an SEM firm. Also added the mSearch and Rawhide acquisitions — links
again provide more info.

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