Part of this deal sees Formula Digital rebranded as Top10.com Media Ltd, with Idealab receiving a 7% share in the company, with Bill Gross joining the advisory board. This deal also values the domain name at over $1m, making it one of the most expensive domain purchases ever by a UK company.
Known in the Affiliate Marketing sector for their Top 10 Broadband and Top 10 Mobile Phones comparison site, they are the UK's most popular with over 1.5 million consumers using the site every month.
We caught up with Tom Leathes, Commercial Director at Top10.com Media Ltd:
Top10's fundamentals lie within the Affiliate and Search sectors. Why did you pay so much for a domain name?
For us this deal wasn't just about a domain name. We've been building the Top10 brand on separate properties (e.g. Top 10 Broadband and Top 10 Mobile Phones) for some years now. Getting Top10.com means that we now have one cohesive platform on which to grow the business, and a single destination for all our customers. Bringing everything together makes for a much cleaner proposition and gives us the ability to join up our separate product channels.
Additionally, with .com being the international standard for domain names, it opens us up to pushing out products and services in other territories beyond the UK, which we're really excited about.
Finally, with Bill and Idealab on board as advisors we have the added benefit of their experience in creating world-leading companies that will be invaluable as we execute our plans for Top10.com in the coming months and years.
What does this mean for Formula Digital as a 'super-affiliate'?
Over the years we've been known under lots of different names and brands - Formula Digital, Top 10 Broadband, not to mention lots of other websites we've developed in the past. We think that's led to a lot of confusion about who we are, and we want to to make things clearer. We've rebranded our company name today to Top10.com Media Ltd to reflect this focus, so Formula is no more!
It can be a problem for affiliate marketing companies operating lots of different brands and web properties to stand out and be counted in the wider world because budgets are so spread out amongst different projects. This model of developing loads of different brands can be a great way to make money in niches during the early stages, but to genuinely build long-term value you need a brand and a real identity that people connect with - that's what we're doing with Top10.com.
A few years ago, I think people would have found it hard to picture a business operating primarily through the affiliate model partnering with a company like Idealab. The affiliate channel has matured a lot and this has been largely to do with the development of a more professional approach, with companies like ours acting as key strategic partners for advertisers. By understanding and working within the goals and challenges of our partners, we've been able to develop a much more effective and scalable business model.
What will Bill Gross' presence on the advisory board bring to the table?
Bill has built some of the most successful internet brands ever, and has amassed a huge amount of experience on how to grow a business. As the inventor of the paid search model (with GoTo.com which became Overture) he also has a unique view on how the search industry is developing - which is of course directly relevant to what we do. Bill will be advising us on things like product development, how we manage the expansion of the business and how we differentiate Top10.com in a crowded marketplace.
What are your expansion plans with the new domain in place?
We think that price comparison is a sector that's been a relatively idea-free zone for the past few years. Meanwhile there have been some huge changes in how people use the internet, particularly in relation to social media. With Top10.com, we're going to be bringing this together in some exciting new models for how people compare and buy products. Whilst we can't give out any details at this point, we're aiming to launch a new platform later in the year, so watch this space!