Microsoft will plunk down $6 billion for aQuantive, a leading digital marketing agency. The $66.50 per share offer—nearly double aQuantive's closing price yesterday—comes on the heels of WPP's 24/7 Real Media purchase. It's Microsoft's biggest acquisition ever, reflecting its growing desperation to regain its status as a major player in the online advertising sphere.
Microsoft has been foiled in a series of recent deals for online ad firms, including DoubleClick. With aQuantive, Microsoft hopes to rev up its own position in the sector. "The need to lock in on on-line advertising assets is at fever pitch," one analyst said in the Wall Street Journal, which values the growing market at $20 billion.