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ESPN.com Drops Yahoo for Quigo

Unit With Ties to Disney Will Provide Contextual Ads for Sports Site

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Yahoo's contextual ad network is losing a prized relationship with ESPN.com, which has reached an exclusive deal with contextual ad firm Quigo. Quigo will now provide ESPN's site with private versions of its Ad Sonar technology platform, allowing the sports publisher to auction sponsored links to its advertisers.
Quigo's technology allows ESPN to auction sponsored links directly with advertisers.
Quigo's technology allows ESPN to auction sponsored links directly with advertisers.

Dealing directly
While Yahoo and Google continue to increase the size of their search and contextual ad networks, some publishers are opting for companies that allow them to deal directly with advertisers.

"We've been told by many advertisers that they'd like to buy ESPN.com directly rather than through a network," an ESPN.com spokesman said. "Now we can leverage our brand with an ESPN ad auction, which gives advertisers more options than they had before."

Quigo was founded in 2000 with the help of Highland Capital and Steamboat Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Walt Disney Co., which helps build relationships between Disney, ESPN and ABC and the companies in which it invests. The ESPN spokesman said Steamboat's investment in Quigo did not influence its partnership with ESPN.com. "That was not the reason for the deal," he said.

Henry Vogel, chief revenue officer at Quigo, said the deal with ESPN will double his network's ad impressions from 4 billion to 8 billion.

Other publishers
In July, Quigo finalized a deal with Cox Newspapers to provide the publishing company with private versions of its Ad Sonar platform. The Quigo AdSonar network of websites already includes PGATour.com, Golf Digest, ABC News, Martha Stewart, and the online publications of American Media, Trader Publishing and IDG.

Reached for comment, a Yahoo spokeswoman would only provide this general statement: "Yahoo has hundreds of thousands of advertisers worldwide, which is a testament to the value and ROI that we offer to businesses of all sizes."

Contextual text ads -- such as the ones Quigo places on publisher partner sites -- generated more than $10 billion last year and are expected to surpass $14 billion this year, according to eMarketer.
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