Bits and Bytes for September 8, 2004

ValueClick Predicts Revenue Growth, U.S. Expansion of Pricerunner

Interactive marketing services provider ValueClick today offered preliminary financial guidance for 2005, predicting $210 million in revenue, a 38 percent growth over this year’s expected revenues of $152 million.

“In 2005, we expect to produce significant growth and a healthy EBITDA margin, while investing to expand further into Europe and establish the presence of our comparison-shopping business in the U.S.,” said James Zarley, chairman and CEO.

Zarley attributed the increased revenue expectations to growth in recently acquired businesses, including European comparison shopping engine Pricerunner, acquired in August, and its affiliate marketing businesses. ValueClick acquired Commission Junction in December 2003 and merged it with its BeFree affiliate marketing offering under the Commission Junction name in March.

While revenues from ValueClick’s BeFree business have been flat for the past three years, Zarley said that Commission Junction has seen 40 percent organic growth in the past year. While the BeFree product line has traditionally focused on larger merchants, with high-end features suited to those merchants, Commission Junction has more user-friendly technology that’s suitable to a greater number of sites, he said.

The company plans to expand the Pricerunner service into Germany and France later this year, and intends to debut it in the U.S. market in 2005, Zarley said. ValueClick will also expand its affiliate marketing presence throughout Europe next year, and expects significant growth as a result, he said.


Yahoo Debuts FareChase Beta

Yahoo has unveiled a beta version of a travel search engine it built after acquiring small travel firm FareChase.

The site, at yahoo.farechase.com, allows users to search 50 different airline Web sites for fares. It organizes results in a grid by airline and by number of stops. Clicking on one of the grid items brings up the scheduled flights available for that fare. Once a user has made a selection, he’s taken to the airline’s Web site to complete the purchase.

“The prototype will enable Yahoo to conduct research to determine the best way to deliver a more comprehensive and relevant online travel search user experience,” the company said in a statement.

Yahoo currently has a deal with Travelocity in which the online travel agency is the portal’s main travel services provider.


Nokia, Six Apart Team for Mobile Blogging

Nokia and blog software firm Six Apart are working together to create mobile blogging tools. The companies will work to integrate Nokia’s Lifeblog tool and Six Apart’s hosted TypePad service.

“Several trends are converging, making it not only possible but also easy to document your life and share it with others, from anywhere,” said Barak Berkowitz, Six Apart’s CEO. “Use of camera phones is now widespread, and weblogging is being increasingly adopted by consumers.”

Lifeblog currently works only with the Nokia 7610 phone and is expected to eventually be compatible with some other Nokia Series 60 phones. The combined mobile blog capabilities are expected to be available early next year.


America Online Upgrades IM Client

America Online Wednesday released an update to the AOL Instant Messenger that includes digital picture sharing, among other new features.

The company has integrated the AOL “You’ve Got Pictures” photo service into the AIM client, which makes it easier for users to share their photographs. The company has also enhanced AIM Expressions, which lets users personalize their messaging with icons, sounds and wallpapers. Advertisers sponsor some of the AIM Expressions content.

AOL has also added computer-animated “SuperBuddy” icons that reside in the messaging window and react to what a user types. SuperBuddy functionality was previously available only in the company’s AOL online service.

The company has also debuted a new AIM Internet Explorer toolbar, which users can opt-in to download when they upgrade the AIM client.

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