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Marchex Acquires 800-Free-411 Owner Jingle Networks

Marchex announced this morning that it was buying Jingle Networks, operator of free directory assistance service 800-Free-411, for $62 million in cash and stock. Founded in 2004, Jingle Networks also has a pay-per-call mobile ad network.

Jingle’s 800-Free-411 competed with GOOG-411, which was closed down last year, and Microsoft’s Bing-411, which is still operating. However Jingle was the leader in the “free directory assistance” segment.

At one point I called free-DA “local-mobile search for the rest of us.” That was before the dramatic growth of smartphones, which have continued to erode traditional DA call volumes.

Marchex has evolved its business over time to focus on calls and has built a call-based ad network that spans traditional media, online and mobile. The company services national clients and small businesses through partners that include Canada’s Yellow Media/Yellow Pages Group, AT&T Interactive and Skype. Marchex also offers call analytics and several other products such as reputation management.

Jingle’s revenues for 2011 are estimated to be $26 million.

Postscript: Here’s a statement from Pete Christothoulou, Marchex COO:

They do own 1-800-Free411, but that is not the reason we acquired them (in fact, this is a declining minority of their total call volume).  There are many reasons for the acquisition, but the core rationale for the acquisition was:  1) mobile voice search is an important product for our call advertising network and we could own that core IP and market leadership position; 2) Jingle has strong mobile partnerships with both carriers and mobile network operators; and 3) Jingle has growing, high-quality call volume in an important digital media channel, mobile.  For these reasons, we wanted to combine their business into our Call Advertising Network and accelerate our strategy and increase our scale and effectiveness.

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