Vox pop: What were the momentous acquisitions of 2005?

This year saw a raft of deals and takeovers, but which stand out?

2005 has been a ripe year for acquisitions as traditional and digital firms have sought to position themselves for a new phase of growth in the interactive sector.

Ebay bought Skype for $2.6 billion (£1.4bn), while News Corp acquired games and movie site IGN Entertainment for $650m (£365m) and MySpace for $580m (£333m), and ITV is said to have bid £170m for Friends Reunited.

But concerns are already surfacing over the real value of this new wave of investments.

Of all these buys, which does the industry think has the potential to make the greatest impact? We asked some key players.

ANDY HOBSBAWM - European chairman & co-founder, Agency.com

An explosion of social production and amateur content, and new communication technologies like VoIP has driven acquisitions such as Yahoo! buying Flickr (photo-tagging and sharing site) and Google acquiring Dodgeball, the location-based software.

It has also prompted traditional media buys: ITV's bid for Friends Reunited and Murdoch's $5bn splash. For traditional media firms, it's about growing audiences, who are increasingly online, to secure ad revenue and create new revenue streams.

There's a constant dance between so-called old and new economies, so you have old buying new - BSkyB acquiring easyNet and MTV buying iFilm - but also new trying to buy old.

Martin Sorrell noted at the recent IAB conference that the largest Japanese portal, LiveDoor, had tried to acquire the biggest broadcaster, Fuji TV Networks, and the largest e-tailer, Rakuten, had tried to take over the third-biggest broadcaster, Tokyo Broadcast Systems. Both were efforts to combat Yahoo!.

BLAKE CHANDLEE - director of media sales, Yahoo! UK

News Corp's acquisition of MySpace is significant. It reinforces the fact that the consumer is in charge, not only of what they consume but also how they consume it.

EBay's acquisition of Skype is also interesting as it clearly shows how industry leaders are diversifying their offer to appeal to an audience that is spending more time doing more things online.

Yahoo!'s acquisition of photo-sharing web site Flickr has had huge ramifications for social networking and community in terms of self-publishing.

And InteractiveCorp buying Ask Jeeves shows how search continues to be a focus of revenue creation for large digital media owners.

JULIAN SMITH - online advertising analyst, Jupiterresearch

News Corp buying out the likes of the IGN and Intermix Media network, which includes MySpace.com, is significant. It's Rupert Murdoch signalling his intent to be a major player in digital. It also represents old-school media firms recognising the need to get up to speed.

The Aegis Isobar acquisitions are relevant because the media world is dramatically changing, with digital having more impact.

It raises the big question 'what does the media agency of the future look like?' Traditional media agencies used to buy traditional media - TV and print media - and get their 15 per cent commission. Now they have to look at new revenue models and service offers, and incorporate digital into their media mix.

JAMES BOOTH - managing director, Tangozebra

One deal I found interesting was the NTL-Telewest takeover. On a number of levels, this could prove to be one to watch; not only by presenting Sky with a genuine competitor in the pay-TV sector, but for how it might impact on the consumer telephone arena and threaten BT.

A huge shift in consumer marketing is happening in response to users gaining more control over the content they absorb. We are expecting the TV experience to change dramatically over the next few years. Interesting opportunities could arise, provided NTL-Telewest invests in the quality of the user experience by producing a platform that's as easy to develop on as the net or, better, one that can improve high-impact web content.

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