Tom Evans, the CEO of Bankrate (NASDAQ:RATE), recently told me that he's never seen a bigger surge in online advertising than in the past six months. "What we are seeing are larger, brand-name companies who are significantly increasing their online spending," he said. When those companies want to get the word out online, they turn to firms such as aQuantive (NASDAQ:AQNT), which has enjoyed the fruits of the growing Internet ad boom.

In the second quarter, aQuantive reported revenues of $77.2 million, a 177% increase from the same period a year ago. During this time, net income increased from $7.5 million to $7.8 million. In addition, EBITDA rose to $17.7 million in the second quarter from $8.9 million in the year-ago period.

What caused that dramatic gap between income and EBITDA increases? The company's tax-loss carry-forwards ran out, putting the brakes on what otherwise appears to be torrid growth.

"There is no one like us," said aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews. The company is a new breed of advertising agency focusing primarily on interactive media. Through a variety of acquisitions over the years, the company has built a full suite of services for web design, search advertising, search optimization, and media planning. The company recently entered the emerging digital television marketplace with the launch of Atlas On Demand.

While few other companies offer so comprehensive a package, a lot of players offer the same services on a piecemeal basis. Does aQuantive get any advantage from keeping all its services under one roof? I believe that the company gains value more by integrating its assorted offerings than by employing cutting-edge technology. They're currently at the forefront of data mining and analytics, crunching numbers to determine how customers can get the greatest exposure for their advertising dollar, but this advantage will likely fade over time. And as more rivals enter the marketplace, aQuantive and its current competitors may see ad prices driven down.

For now, however, times are good. In the third quarter, aQuantive raised its guidance for the second time this year. The company now expects revenues between $72 million and $76 million and net income between $0.08 and $0.11 per diluted share. Full-year guidance is forecasted at $288 million to $298 million and net income of $0.38 to $0.43 per diluted share.

On the earnings news, aQuantive's stock price edged down 2.31% to $17.33. That's hardly a disaster, since the company's shares have enjoyed a strong performance this year.

Assuming the online advertising market continues to grow, potential advertisers will definitely need expert advice and planning -- and right now, aQuantive's in the catbird seat. It shouldn't get too confident, though. Its competitive environment is always uncertain, and it could face a formidable challenge if Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) decide to enter its territory.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.