AT&T to buy pay-per-call firm Ingenio

The phone giant says it will acquire privately held Ingenio, a provider of pay-per-call advertising technology, for an undisclosed sum.

AT&T is adding to its stable of online advertising properties, in a move to further diversify its ad business from phone books.

The phone giant said Monday that it will acquire privately held Ingenio, a provider of pay-per-call advertising technology, for an undisclosed sum. AT&T said that it will fold Ingenio into its subsidiary that handles local online search advertising. Those properties include Yellowpages.com, AT&T Real Yellow Pages and 1-800-Yellow Pages.

The deal is expected to close in January 2008.

Ingenio, founded in 1999 and backed by Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark Capital, is a lead generation company. Marketers use Ingenio to advertise their business or services in online search listings linked to a unique 1-800 number. Marketers pay for the ads only when Web surfers call the embedded number, or what's called performance-based advertising.

"As advertisers add performance-based advertising to their marketing mix, this investment makes sense for our business," Ray Wilkins, AT&T group president of Diversified Business, said in a statement. "Ingenio's technology will allow AT&T to expand our robust service portfolio for print, online and mobile advertisers, and that will further differentiate us from our competitors."

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