With a thumbs up from Compaq Computers, its new adoptive parent, AltaVista will continue with plans to convert the search service into a Web portal and retain ties to its ad-buying partner, DoubleClick. The move by Compaq, which finalized its deal to buy AltaVista owner Digital Equipment Corp. earlier this month, appears to alleviate concerns about the future for both AltaVista and DoubleClick.
In February, DoubleClick, New York, reported 45 percent of its revenue was derived from its business affiliation with AltaVista. Prior to the company’s initial public offering in February, industry observers were forecasting doom for DoubleClick should AltaVista’s new owners decide to pull the plug on the contract. But DoubleClick has a successful track record with AltaVista, generating $20 million in ad revenue for the search service in 1997, the first year it began selling ads.
“DoubleClick has been a great partner and will be a great partner,” said Kathleen Greenler, director of marketing at Littleton, Mass.-based AltaVista Search Services.
The search service is expected to be run as a unit separate from Compaq, just as it did under DEC’s ownership. However, AltaVista should benefit from Compaq’s bigger marketing budget and its plans to incorporate AltaVista as a “search” key on its keyboards with its personal computers. Major projects, including a multimedia brand campaign that could break this fall, are on schedule.
A few issues remain to be addressed, however, including whether to alter the Web address, www.digital.altavista.com (the altavista.com address is registered to another company), and which companies should handle upcoming advertising efforts. AltaVista has used Digital Pulp, New York, for online media and Compaq’s new traditional media agency of record, DDB Needham, New York, for its other ads. DDB had handled the DEC account.
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