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AOL picks up Sphere
Christo Jacob
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It seems Time Warner’s AOL is taking the role of a chinook in Internet space. AOL’s ‘hook or crook’ move to expand its Internet and advertising portfolio still continues. Followed by Bebo’s acquisition, AOL has now picked up a contextual search tool provider Sphere Source. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, published reports indicate the deal was worth about $25 million.

Founded in 2005 Sphere, as a blog search engine, develops Web technology that displays articles, videos, and blog entries next to other related content on websites. Over 50,000 sites including those of media organizations CNN, Reuters, Newsweek, and CBS use its technology. Apart from its content search technology, Sphere offers a third-party network billed as containing more than 50,000 bloggers and other content publishers, who generate more than two billion article pages on the Web each month.

Despite AOL's much pricier buyout of the social networking site Bebo last month, many of AOL's other recent acquisitions have fallen on the advertising rather than the content side. These buyouts have included various constituent components of the company's emerging Platform-A advertising platform: textual ad platform Quigo, mobile ad platform Third Screen Media; and behavioral ad platform Tacoda. As a result of the previous acquisitions, AOL seems to be making faster progress in industry rankings on the advertising side than anywhere else. But, Platform-A now tops all of AOL's competitors with regard to reach, according to ComScore's figures. AOL's ‘Platform-A’ advertising network served ads to 170.5 million Internet users in March, the most of any online ad network. Following closely behind are Yahoo with 160.3 million and Google with 152 million.

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