IAR Bits and Bytes

AOL Extends Overture Contract While Talks Continue

Paid listings search engine Overture said it has reached an agreement with America Online to continue syndicating its listings for another month, extending a contract due to expire at the end of March.

The firm said the extension, which expires April 24, will allow the two companies to continue their negotiations.

Overture said in a statement that it could not disclose additional details of the negotiations.

The firm has come under increasing pressure as of late from competitors. In January, search engine Google began syndicating its keyword-based ads, and last month introduced a cost-per-click model — similarly to Overture and rival LookSmart.

LookSmart, meanwhile, acquired search engine technology firm WiseNut to improve the relevancy of its listings and boost their appeal to users. Marketers pay a fee to be listed in the search engine, although search results are delivered based on relevancy.

Overture, which ranks search results based on the amount advertisers are willing to pay for higher positions, has been striking out into new territories in a bid to increase its client base. This year, the firm launched a German-language site and said it is planning international rollouts elsewhere.

Last month, Overture extended its contract with Yahoo until the middle of this year, and with Microsoft’s MSN service until 2003.

Return Path, AccuData America Strike Deal

New York-based Return Path will provide email change of address services for clients of AccuData America, through a new deal announced this week.

The agreement will have Cape Coral, Fl.-based AccuData, a national direct marketing strategy firm, offering Return Path’s services to clients.

Return Path’s email change of address (ECOA) service allows registered consumers change their email addresses with the marketers with whom they have relationships — allowing businesses to keep their housefiles up-to-date. Return Path said it has more than 4.6 million consumers registered for its service.

The news comes on the heels of Return Path being selected to provide ECOA services for the U.S. Postal Service’s MoversGuide.com Web site.

Xpedite Adds Features

Fax, voice broadcast and email marketing technology firm Xpedite said it has updated its IntelliSEND software with new features that increase creative options and data collection.

The Tinton Falls, N.J. company, a unit of Ptek Holdings , said the enhancements include support for Macromedia Flash files, improved editing of HTML emails, and “send-to-a-friend” forwarding and tracking features.

IntelliSEND serves as a tool to upload email marketing messages for distribution via Xpedite’s MessageREACH service.

In addition to providing email marketing technology, Xpedite also specializes in creating parsers that link their marketing and message distribution applications to marketers’ own applications and databases — similarly to how a number of marketing technology firms are now bundling XML support into their services.

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