Ground-breaking search engine Google was the first company to introduce a "pay-per-click" advertising paradigm. Right?


A full three years before Google unveiled its all-conquering ad model in June 2003, London-based Espotting was offering a pay-per-click service that links contextualised ads to specific online content.

And while the company remains a minnow alongside the mighty US search engine, Espotting last year achieved a growth rate Google would kill for - a 726% year-on-year increase in revenues.

The achievement, the highest rate of growth among all UK media companies, was lauded last week at the annual Media Momentum Awards, an annual event organized by investment bank GP Capital and sponsored by Barclays Bank with media-oriented law firm Olswang.

The fifty companies honoured at the ceremony - all of them in the 'new media' sector - achieved an averaged 2004 growth rate of 149%. By comparison. 'old media' companies such as WPP Group and publishing/radio giant Emap respectively managed 5% and 3%.

GP Capital founder Manish Madhvani predicts an imminent flurry of acquisitions by US media giants, eager to acquire British expertise at the leading edge of e-media.

"In terms of outlook, the picture is better than it has been for some time," salivated Madhvani sensing rich pickings. "In areas, such as interactive TV, Britain is leading the world and American companies are in the market to acquire pioneering ventures."

Such as Espotting itself which went west last summer, swallowed for $170 million (€131.51m; £90.2m) by, a Florida-headquartered, NASDAQ-listed search advertising specialist.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff