Report: WPP Eyes Online Ad Giant 24/7 Real Media

Mere weeks after Google's agreement to acquire online ad giant DoubleClick, one of the world's biggest ad agency holding companies is rumored to be in talks to acquire one of its oldest competitors. WPP Group has emerged as one of the suitors to acquire 24/7 Real Media, according to a report in today's New York Post.

Citing unnamed analysts, the paper estimated 24/7 Real Media could "fetch upwards of $600 million, or at least three times the company's annual revenue," though it said the asking price could be a lot higher, based on recent deals for Internet advertising companies. Coming on the heels of Google's $3.1 billion offer to acquire DoubleClick, the sale of 24/7 Real Media could spark a feeding frenzy, and consolidation within the online advertising services industry.

Founded in 1995 as Real Media, the company was among the seminal advertising representatives that emerged during the early days of the online advertising marketplace that forged online advertising networks, online ad serving platforms and production and distribution systems, and analytics for tracking and measuring the results of online advertising buys.



Although 24/7 Real Media has been an also-ran trailing the market dominance of DoubleClick, the company has sought to leverage Google's deal to acquire it by promoting itself to disaffected DoubleClick customers. A blatant link on 24/7 Real Media's home page reads: "Congratulations To GoogleClick Nation! Defectors, click here," and jumps to a registration page to sign up as a customer.

Shares of 24/7 Real Media closed Tuesday at $8.47 on Nasdaq, about halfway between their 52-week range of $6.72 and $10.89. The company's stock once traded at a high of $306.87 in January 2000, but was battered during the dot-com bust.

It's been a while since WPP Group made a major acquisition, but Chairman-CEO Martin Sorrell has been very vocal about his plans to restructure WPP in three key areas: Fast-growing emerging markets like China; research and other diversified marketing services; and online and other digital interactive advertising services.

Although WPP Group has been making a number of strategic investments, the company's last major acquisition was Grey Global Group in 2005 for $1.2 billion.

Next story loading loading..