Bits & Bytes for August 17, 2004

AOL Latino Adds ‘Automoviles’ Channel

America Online’s Spanish language portal has partnered with Autobytel, a Bay Area firm providing auto marketing services, to launch a channel offering car search and comparison tools. Financial details of the pact weren’t disclosed.

Called Automoviles, the new channel will let AOL Latino members run side-by-side comparisons of various car models and, if they so wish, request a purchase quote. Autobytel’s engine lets users compare pricing, performance, safety and specifications across major auto brands. Additional content will include news, reviews and tips for car buyers.

The deal is a significant one for Autobytel, whose network of 29,000 car dealers in the U.S. will likely see a lift in sales as the AOL channel takes off. When site users submit a request for a quote on the AOL Latino site, the lead goes directly to one of those dealers, who then gets in touch with the customer directly.

All ad sales on the new channel will be handled by AOL. Autobytel is responsible only for the new channel’s shopping engine and content, which closely resemble its “Autobytel En Espanol” offering.

In rolling out the new channel, AOL cited an online study it conducted jointly with Roper ASW finding Hispanic consumers are purchasing new cars at four times the rate of the general population.

“With so many Hispanics researching and purchasing cars online, we realized it was key for AOL Latino to provide comprehensive and dynamic automotive coverage in Spanish to all of its members,” said David Wellisch, VP and general manager for AOL Latino. “With the launch of our new Automoviles channel and our partnership with Autobytel, we are providing our members with rich content and useful tools to help them make well-informed car buying decisions.”


Fashion Event on AOL RED Pushes Fall Look for Teens

AOL’s RED service for teens announced an interactive fashion event featuring Fall fashion designs.

“RED Heats up the Hallways” is set at The Autumn Bowl, a wooden skate park built inside a warehouse in Brooklyn. A skate team will perform as models walk the floor in new designs from Guess?, Fred Perry, Steve Madden and Old Navy. All designs are available for sale.

The fashion experience — optimized for AOL for Broadband — will be accompanied by various community features, including polls and message boards.


Real, Apple Out of Tune

RealNetworks went on the offensive in the digital music arena Tuesday with it’s anti-Apple “Freedom of Choice” online campaign and a half-price music sale.

The launch surrounds the release of RealPlayer 10.5, which integrates Real’s new Harmony digital rights management (DRM) translation technology, which allows consumers to securely transfer purchased music — say, from the RealPlayer Music Store — to multiple devices, including Apple’s iPod. Harmony supports any device that uses Apple’s FairPlay DRM, Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio DRM, or RealNetworks’ Helix DRM.

The campaign is comprised of the price cut, an anti-Apple “Freedom of Music Choice” site, and a nationwide print ad campaign, which includes full-page ads in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and more than 150 alternative news weeklies nationwide.

The goal — apart from getting customers to download the latest RealPlayer with embedded Harmony technology and buy songs from the RealPlayer Music Store — is to force Apple to open up its Fairplay DRM format to third-party music stores. For its part, Real is open to licensing Harmony to third-party music stores like Napster or AOL’s MusicNet service.


Aptimus Debuts Self-Service Ad Network

Performance-based advertising network Aptimus on Tuesday launched its EasyJoin self-service program targeting small Web sites. EasyJoin lets Web site publishers join the Aptimus Network, build and modify ad placements, and view their results online.

Ad placements can be customized to match a site’s look and feel, and can be placed on any transaction-related page. Publishers can choose the number of offers to present, number of columns, and the header image for each placement. Online reporting is updated every 15 minutes.

The Aptimus Network uses Dynamic Revenue Optimization, a proprietary technology that automatically determines where consumers are most interested and most likely to respond to an offer and then increases advertisement exposure in those places.

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