Recently, when asked what AOL's priorities would be in terms of investment, CEO Randy Falco suggested that it would be areas such as international and also rounding out its ad-network offerings by bolstering its contextual capabilities.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but are reported to be about $340 million.
Quigo, which joins four other ad networks at AOL, has made a name positioning itself in many cases as an alternative to Google's AdSense. Like AdSense, Quigo is a content-matching network, meaning it discerns what topics are on a web page and matches ads to those topics. Quigo touts that it offers publishers more control than Google or Yahoo's Publisher Network, another competitor, because it lets publishers sell into the network. The primary creative Quigo deals are simple text ads, although it is experimenting with video.
Quigo's contextual-targeting-network product, called AdSonar, counts sites such as ESPN, FoxNews.com, TheStreet.com and LonelyPlanet.com among its distribution partners. Over the summer Quigo signed a $100 million deal with Time Warner's Time Inc. division, which gave it the exclusive text advertising rights on SI.com, EW.com and People.com, among other sites. Quigo also has another search-engine-marketing product called FeedPoint, which helps marketers achieve better positioning within search results when a consumer is shopping for a particular item.
What AOL owns
AOL has made several ad-network purchases over the past several years. Here's a quick review of what it owns:
Advertising.com, the largest ad network, according to ComScore, is a performance-based network, which means it typically appeals to marketers who want users to fulfill some sort of action, such as clicking through to a website. A performance ad network will use a variety of techniques to optimize response, continually driving up effectiveness for advertisers and increasing the profit margin between what advertisers are willing to pay and the cost of the inventory.
Third Screen Media is a mobile ad network and aggregates the inventory on a variety of mobile websites to resell to the marketers. Mobile represents a big opportunity for advertisers and Third Screen is one of just a few major emerging players in the mobile space. Because mobile adoption is still relatively low, a network that can aggregate sites to simulate scale is valuable.
Tacoda is a behavioral-targeting firm. These kinds of networks track where users surf within a network and, ideally, can serve up valuable targeted advertising on what would ordinarily be considered low-value commercial inventory. For example, if you look at hybrid vehicles on a Tacoda partner site, the network can serve you a Toyota Prius ad even when you leave that site and are reading the local news on another Tacoda site.
AOL has also purchased Adtech, a Germany-based ad-serving company.