IAR Bits and Bytes

Agency.com Launches Visa Verification Program

New York-based Agency.com took the wraps off the “Verified by Visa” Web site and transaction interface for Visa U.S.A., the domestic unit of payment and credit card giant Visa.

The program allows Visa cardholders to add passwords to their existing cards. When a consumer uses a “Verified by Visa” card to purchase online, a window appears requesting their password.

Since recent studies point to security concerns as one of the chief factors limiting consumers’ willingness to shop online, the “Verified by Visa” program is designed to ease those fears by theoretically helping to prevent unauthorized charges.

Meanwhile, e-tailers that participate in Verified by Visa program presumably get the reassurance that only the rightful owner of the participating Visa card is able to transact on their sites.

“As an interactive extension of the Visa brand, it was important that both the Web site and the transaction user interface closely reflect the trusted Visa brand,” said Alicia Bunnell, who is director of marketing for Visa U.S.A. “By providing consumers with the added safety of Verified by Visa, we are using our payment technology to differentiate Visa cards in a way that’s meaningful to consumers, and ensuring relevance of the brand, our member financial institutions and merchant partners.”

Post-HotJobs Breakup, New CFO for TMP

Say this for Monster.com parent TMP Worldwide — it doesn’t dwell on failure.

Last week, just hours after eschewing a bidding war with Yahoo for job board HotJobs , TMP trumpeted a new, big-budget ad campaign. The package, highlighting Maynard, Mass., career site Monster, includes a Super Bowl spot.

And today, TMP, of New York, announced the hiring of former USA Networks executive Michael Sileck as CFO. He replaces Bart Catalane who resigned in November in a company-wide shakeup.

“His ability to manage the finances of USA Networks’ multi-faceted media and commerce operations will translate nicely to handling TMP’s numerous business channels,” said Jim Treacy, TMP’s president and COO.

Sileck, 41, joined USA in 1999 and was responsible for the company’s finances and accounting. Under his leadership, the media company, whose properties include the USA TV network and Ticketmaster, enjoyed double-digit earnings growth (before taxes and other expenses).

Previously, he was vice president of finance at Sinclair Broadcast Group in Baltimore. There he was responsible for financial operations of a broadcasting group that included 60 TV stations and 50 radio stations He also held positions at River City Broadcasting in St. Louis, Mo., and Narragansett Television, in Providence, R.I.

Shares of TMPW were off 0.44, or 1 percent, to 44.03 Thursday afternoon. In the last 52 weeks, the issue has ranged from 25.21 to 68.734.

ValueClick Campaign Drives Traffic to TV Shows

An experiment conducted in Japan by ad network ValueClick evidently attests to the Web’s power to drive immediate traffic to other media.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based company’s subsidiary, ValueClick Japan, recently ran online ads promoting shows on TY Tokyo, Inc. The catch was that the ads appeared the moment that the shows began airing.

The effort led to an increase in television viewership, the companies said. For instance, banners promoting “Kazuo Tokumitsu’s Information Spirits” contributed 22 percent of the show’s audience, according to viewers surveyed. More viewers (30 percent) cited only that it was their favorite program as their reason for watching.

Similarly, seeing the banner added 9 percent to the audience of “MUSIX,” and 15 percent of “World BusinessSatellite.”

Executives pointed to the campaign’s success as a sign of the potency of Web ads’ immediate call-to-action — which has been in many ways discredited, as click-through rates have fallen over the past few years.

“The ValueClick Japan/Tokyo TV relationship is an example of the synergies that interactive and traditional media possess,” said ValueClick Japan president and chief executive Jonny Hendriksen. “This is truly exceptional.”

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