US firm pays £100m for Espotting

Further signs of a hotting up in the internet marketing arena: pay-per-click Espotting advertising specialist, has just been bought for almost &£100m by a US company.

The shares-and-cash acquisition is an extraordinary achievement for London-based Espotting, which was founded by former ad agency directors just three years ago.

Espotting has been in a head-on race with US-based Overture, which claims to be the global market leader. Espotting’s rapid expansion into Europe has kept Overture from claiming leadership on this side of the Atlantic. There have been rumours for the past two years that Overture was seeking to acquire Espotting.

Both companies operate search engines of the type where advertisers bid for prominence. They can opt for particular keywords or phrases through an open, automated, bid-for-position system. The website with the highest bid appears first in a search, followed by all the other advertisers in descending bid order.

This model is in stark contrast to the traditional search engine, such as Google, where results are ranked according to relevancy and without any commercial considerations. However, such has been the success of paid listings that even Google now offers a similar product alongside its non-commercial listings.

Espotting’s has been bought by FindWhat.com, a leading developer and provider of performance-based marketing services for the internet. Between them, the two companies power a combined 2.25 billion search engine queries each month.

Espotting founder and chief executive Daniel Ishag says: “In a single transaction, both companies achieve a step-change in scale, which should allow us to capitalise fully on the rapid expansion in performance-based online marketing.”

Espotting was formed in 2000 and launched its UK service in September that year. Over the past 18 months, it has launched in an additional nine European markets. Espotting claims to have more than 16,000 clients.

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