Atlas DMT Launches New Operating Unit, Goes After Big Clients With Go Toast Integration

In an ongoing quest to consolidate Web campaign management and reporting for advertisers, aQuantive, Inc.'s Atlas DMT has integrated its Go Toast search technology with its product suite. Go Toast, the paid search management and optimization technology acquired by Atlas DMT in December 2003, will now operate under the Atlas umbrella as Atlas Search. The company has also launched a new business unit, OnePoint, which will focus on providing self-service marketing technologies including the new search product to small and mid-tier advertisers.

Both Web-based Application Service Provider-based (ASP) offerings-- Atlas Search and the OnePoint search product--are the result of primarily back-end integration of the original Go Toast technology with the Atlas suite. "There's more workflow integration to come," anticipates Karl Siebrecht, VP-strategy and product management at Atlas DMT. The technology is used to manage search marketing campaigns and automate bidding optimization, using a single interface across approximately 40 search engines. The pricing model for Atlas Search is based on number of keywords and bidding frequency.

The company is pitching Atlas Search to large agencies and advertiser clients. According to Siebrecht, "seven or eight major agencies" are currently using the technology, including WPP Group's The Digital Edge and Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide. Smaller outfits, including Web retailer and Internet marketing services firm Concussion Interactive, are running the OnePoint tool.

The extension of Atlas DMT's services into the search sphere, in addition to its recent under-the-radar acquisition of Ad4ever's rich media technology assets, keeps the firm in direct competition with DoubleClick. The rival ad campaign management technology outfit recently announced its decision to pick up search and affiliate marketing company Performics, and has already made its foray into the rich media space through a partnership with Macromedia.

While Atlas Search is a Web-based, do-it-yourself type of offering, Performics is a services-oriented company, and its technology has no external interface. The firm's client base consists mainly of large direct marketers such as Target and L.L. Bean. "I can't think of any time we've ever gone up against [Go Toast] head to head," comments Chris Henger, Performics' SVP-marketing and product development. Now that Atlas DMT is extending its search capacity to appeal to big online media spenders, that could change.

Nate Elliott, associate analyst at Jupiter Research expects that agencies will begin to take matters into their own hands soon by acquiring search marketing firms for themselves. Indeed, aQuantive's Avenue A took a similar tack by developing its Atlas DMT technology for in-house use, and later distributing it commercially.

One key reason behind moves such as Atlas DMT's search tool integration reflects an industry-wide march toward streamlining campaign analytics so that advertisers can evaluate media buys and return on investment more efficiently. "What's ideal for marketers is to be able to manage and monitor their entire online marketing budget in one place," affirms Jupiter's Elliott. "If [a company] can offer them all those different pieces, it's going to make them look more attractive to marketers."

Despite greater reporting efficiency and the desire to serve all client needs, ad technology powerhouses like Atlas DMT and DoubleClick that take the one-stop-shop approach run the risk of diluting their value through overextension. When asked about the possibility of spreading the company's product offerings too thin, Atlas DMT's Siebrecht admits: "That's the daily question I live with," continuing: "There was such a demand from our customers for particularly [the search] extension and the rich media extension that we feel very confident that our clients will get value from it."

Jupiter's Elliott also dismisses the overextension argument. "I don't know if [the contention] holds any water, because the fact is that Atlas and DoubleClick bought leaders in the field," he asserts, adding: "Now it's up to execution."

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