AT&T Buys Ingenio for Pay Per Call Technology

Purchase seen improving AT&T's and mobile advertising portfolio.

November 19, 2007

David Needle

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AT&T on Monday announced the purchase of privately-held Ingenio and plans to integrate the company's pay-per-call advertising platform into its local directory search and network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pay-per-call is designed to help businesses better manage ad programs and generate more phone leads. Founded in 1999, Ingenio describes itself as a leader in "live-search commerce." The company's main product, called Pay Per Call, is a pay-for-performance advertising service that enables the purchase of live customer phone call leads generated through Ingenio's online and mobile search advertising network.

Ingenio can be used by individuals as well as small or local to larger national businesses. The company said industries such as mortgage, real estate, financial services, travel, car rentals and florists bid for placement for exposure on the Ingenio network and pay an average of $8-$10 (bidding across all categories starts at $2 per call).

Following the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in January 2008, Ingenio will be integrated within AT&T's and overseen by Charles Stubb, the CEO of that AT&T division. AT&T also said it expects to retain Ingenio's management team which sounds eager to plug into the phone giant's considerable resources.

"Throughout the past few years, we have built and deployed innovative products that help the services economy flourish online," said Mark Britto, president and CEO of Ingenio in a statement announcing the deal. "What we have lacked, however, is scale -- the ability to bring those solutions to the market in the biggest possible way. Our merger with AT&T allows us to bring our innovations to more businesses nationwide."

Kevin Harvey, a general partner with Benchmark Capital, the largest shareholder in Ingenio, said the pay-per-call area was attractive and strategic to AT&T. "The integration is going to benefit their Yellow Pages advertisers," Harvey, who also is an Ingenio Board member, told

In announcing the deal, AT&T said it would help the company offer advertisers a comprehensive solution to purchasing leads across online, mobile or print media regardless of whether they have a Web site.

Separately, AT&T has already been working to expand its business. The company recently expanded its mobile search products with a Web application for iPhone users and a downloadable local search application that is currently available on 20 different AT&T handset models.

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