Time Warner pays 850 million US dollars for UK online community
US media group Time Warner will take over the Bebo UK online community via its internet division AOL. As announced by Time Warner last Thursday in New York, the social network, founded in 2005, will cost 850 million dollars. According to the report, Bebo has 40 million users worldwide and is particularly popular in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Last year's market research shows that Bebo is more popular in the UK than MySpace (News Corporation) or Facebook.
With the takeover of this purely English language community, Time Warner mainly hopes to strengthen AOL's position in the booming advertising sector for social networking platforms. AOL, once the first and foremost internet access provider, will gradually withdraw from the access business and focus mainly on the less resource intensive portal business. According to figures provided by market analysts eMarketer, the advertising volume for social community platforms is already projected to be 2.1 billion this year alone. This volume is expected to double by 2011.
In a press release, Time Warner explained that AOL has moved aggressively in the last few months to bolster its position in areas critical to its emergence as a leading advertising-supported Web media and marketing company. The press release said almost a billion US dollars were invested in establishing this global advertising network (called "Platform-A"), for the acquisition of web advertising specialists Adtech, buy.at, Lightningcast, Third Screen Media, Tacoda, Quigo among others.
Bebo is of special interest to AOL due to its target audience of millions of potential consumers who spend an average 33 minutes per day on the portal's pages. According to the statement, Bebo's "Engagement Marketing" initiative helps companies establish long-term relationships with their defined target audiences. Apple and sports goods vendor Nike allegedly already use the platform to establish ongoing dialogue with consumers. The statement said Bebo's open media platform is used by more than 400 media companies to advertise and sell their products as well as to open new earning opportunities.