Owned by the same company, the two affiliate marketing companies now have the same name.
ValueClick's affiliate marketing companies, Be Free and Commission Junction, have come together under the latter brand name.
Over time, the companies' proprietary technologies will be integrated on one platform, the company said. BeFree has offices in Marlborough, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, while Commission Junction is headquartered in Santa Barbara, with offices in New York and London.
ValueClick, the parent company of Be Free, snapped up Commission Junction in October 2003. Be Free, founded in 1996, has made its name providing affiliate marketing services for large retail clients like Best Buy, CitiFinancial, Staples, and Travelocity. Six-year-old CJ's clients include MSN, eBay, Overture, and Quicken Loans; as well as international clients Expedia, Marbles and Marks and Spencer.
The Be Free/Commission Junction network became one of the largest affiliate marketing networks when the merger closed in December 2003. The pickup helped position ValueClick as the world's largest affiliate marketing player.
As to the choice of names, Jeff Pullen, the company's general manager, said market research indicated that the Commission Junction brand was fresher.
"Over the last couple of years, we spent a fair amount of money to build and maintain the brand," Pullen said. Commission Junction has had significant success in the UK, Pullen said, and is expanding operations into Europe as well. "The world wide brand recognition was the primary reason we chose Commission Junction."
"It's a good move," said Gary Stein, analyst for Jupiter Research, owned by Jupitermedia, parent of this publication. "For one thing, 'Be Free' is a cheesy name. 'Commission Junction' describes very well what kind of company it is. It's a junction where people come together."
With affiliate marketing, one Internet entity promotes another. A common example would be when site "A" features buttons from site "B", with site "A" getting a percentage of sales generated for site "B."
"Overall, Commission Junction has a better reputation and better clients. eBay is a client," Stein said. "So it was wise to go with Commission Junction." ValueClick clients include Barnes & Noble, Expedia, Overture, PalmOne, Real Networks and eBay.
Regardless of which name was used, Stein said it was a good idea to combine the brands. "Customers don't make that much distinction between the two. They might have found themselves competing against each other," despite being owned by the same entity, he said.
"It's all wrapped around uniting as one brand so the message to the market is clear and concise that we can bring to that market all the tools and services they need to be successful in performance marketing," said Pullen.
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