AOL Userplane deal precedes Euro drive

AOL is to make a fresh push for advertising around social networking sites in Europe after buying US internet company Userplane.

Userplane works with more than 100,000 websites, selling advertising around the instant messaging tools it provides for sites such as MySpace.com, Friendster and Date.com. It also assists brands such as Honda and Red Bull in providing online chat facilities.

The company is now planning to expand its network internationally following the AOL deal. It says it will release a new advertising-supported package for its services and is to expand to Europe and Asia using AOL’s greater resources.

Michael Jones, chief executive of Userplane, says: “We’re looking to increase the ad sales networks we work with internationally. I think we’re going to have to hire UK staff.”

Earlier this year, Userplane launched video advertising across its network of online communities. It now also plans to link with AOL’s Instant Messenger, which is one of the world’s largest services of its kind, extending its potential reach for advertisers.

Social networking sites have become hugely popular in recent years, particularly with teenagers. They are also becoming an important focus for advertisers. Last week, Google signed a $900m (&£477m) deal to provide its search and keyword advertising services on News Corporation-owned MySpace, the largest deal to date in this sector.

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