IAR Bits and Bytes

Want to Read People Online? Join AOL

As part of its restructuring plan, AOL Time Warner said it would begin to carry some Time Warner publications’ Web sites exclusively on its struggling AOL Internet service. People.com and EntertainmentWeekly.com will be the first two sites to go behind the AOL wall on March 31.

Ruth Sarfaty, a company spokeswoman, said a number of AOL Time Warner’s sites would follow, although the company has shied away from making its most popular sites, CNN.com, Time.com and SI.com, available only to AOL subscribers.

In the near future, People.com and EntertainmentWeekly.com will be joined by the Web sites of a dozen other magazines, including Real Simple, Cooking Light and Parenting.

Don Logan, who heads of AOL Time Warner’s media and communications group, announced the integration of Time Warner content into the AOL service last December. The hope is exclusive content, along with e-commerce and a broadband push, will help revitalize the woebegone Internet unit.

Jumpstart Digital Goes All Rich Media

Jumpstart Digital, an interactive agency for the auto industry, announced Thursday that it would drop static banner ads from its offers to local auto dealers, recommending instead they run Point Roll rich media units.

The San Francisco-based agency, which has partnerships with third-party auto-info sites like CarandDriver.com and NADAGuides.com, said the move would encourage dealers to use higher-performing rich media ad units.

“Dealers know that the majority of their customers are online before they come to the showroom,” said Timothy O’Leary, Jumpstart’s vice president of local ad sales. “While it makes good sense to advertise where your customers are, dealers are savvy marketers and have questioned the effectiveness of banners and buttons.”

Now, Jumpstart will offer Point Roll rich media units that appear as regular banners but expand to up to four times their size when a user mouses over them. With the added space, Jumpstart said dealers could include more information on financing deals, model details, and multimedia features.”

Rich media’s greater effectiveness over static ads is well known. According to DoubleClick’s fourth-quarter ad-serving trend report, rich media units received a 2.5 percent click-through rate against an anemic .3 percent for static ads. DoubleClick reported 25 percent of all the ads it served in the quarter were rich media, although that figure outstrips most estimates of rich media’s prevalence.

With Point Roll’s interactive feature, O’Leary pointed out that a click-through was not necessary for the ad to be effective.

E-Centives Reports Higher Revenue, Narrower Loss

Online direct marketer E-Centives reported fourth quarter 2002 earnings Thursday, with higher revenue and a narrowed net loss.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2002, the Bethesda, Md.-based company took in $1.3 million, an 18 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. Net loss was $2.9 million, down 84 percent from the $18.6 million it lost in fourth quarter 2001.

The company said it has gone some way to restructuring its business to adjust to the economic downturn. During the quarter, it closed a number of business units, including its Commerce Engine, Commerce Network and PerformOne Network. In addition, E-Centives restructured leases for hosting facilities in three states and the United Kingdom.

In addition, E-Centives acquired consumer site ConsumerReview.com in December.

Earlier this month, E-Centives announced it started patent litigation with rival Coupons, Inc., raising the specter of a revival of the patent-infringement lawsuits that roiled the industry in the late 1990s.

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