Akamai Buys Acerno, Adds Targeted Advertising Capability

10/21/08Follow @wroush

Akamai, the Cambridge, MA-based operator of Internet content distribution networks, today released news that it will acquire Acerno, a New York- and San Francisco-based targeted-advertising company, for $95 million in cash. The move gets Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) into the increasingly popular game of “behavioral targeting,” or serving specific ads to online shoppers based on their past actions.

Acerno gathers anonymized data on the behavior of online shoppers from members of its “cooperative,” which includes the websites of hundreds of retailers and product manufacturers with combined traffic in the neighborhood of 140 million visitors per year. The company analyzes the data and provides cooperative members with predictions that help them target consumers with “more relevant” ads—that is, ads that are more likely to attract clicks and lead to purchases.

Now that technology will be rebranded as a new Akamai product line called Advertising Decision Solutions, also announced today. Akamai says the Acerno acquisition is a good fit for the company, since its content distribution network powers hundreds of retail websites (and ad networks) that ring up an estimated $84 billion in e-commerce transactions annually in the U.S. alone.

“Our combined capabilities with Acerno should benefit the ecosystem of ad networks, online publishers and Internet advertisers by providing them with real-time, actionable data to serve more relevant marketing messages,” said Mike Afergan, Akamai’s CTO, in a statement. Afergan is now also the senior vice president of the company’s Advertising Decision Solutions division.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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