IAR Bits and Bytes

Gator Fingers NYT

The ongoing spat between Gator Corp. and a number of high-profile Web publishers continues to worsen, with the pop-up ad firm charging that the New York Times Co. — a plaintiff — had formerly been a client.

Last week, in response to the lawsuit from the Times, Dow Jones & Co. , the Washington Post Co. , Gannett and others, Gator fired back at the charges in a strongly worded statement, adding that one of the publishers had actually been a customer. At the time, it declined to go into more detail.

However, the firm now says that the Times had several times employed the firm to deliver impressions on the Web sites of competitors. Specifically, those sites included WSJ.com, WashingtonPost.com, USAToday.com, and other sites operated by other plaintiffs in the suit.

In response, the suit’s lead lawyer, Terrence Ross, said he was unaware of the Times’ ever having gone through an advertising agreement with the firm.

“As I understand the facts … a media buyer for the Times did place an order for a Gator ad sometime in early 2002,” Ross said. “A couple weeks after the order went in, when the NYT Times heard that it was Gator — and that meant unauthorized pop-up ads — they cancelled the buy.”

RedSheriff Opens System to ABCi

Site analytics player RedSheriff has joined the ranks of firms providing quick access to clients’ sites for the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s interactive unit, ABCi.

Similarly to WebSideStory and NetIQ , RedSheriff offers ASP-based Web site audience measurement services that enable companies to study visitors’ and customers’ demographics, and site activity.

Now, also like those firms, New York-based RedSheriff aims to make it easier for clients’ activity claims to be audited by way of a special technical interface for the auditor to monitor clients’ systems. At the same time, ABCi also will gain access to RedSheriff’s data and reports for use in verifying site activity figures.

In addition to WebSideStory and NetIQ, Rolling Hills, Ill.-based ABCi also has similar deals with WhiteCross, IBM SurfAid, and other firms. The firm also said it has additional arrangements with analytics firms currently in the works.

The idea is that by making clients’ sites more transparent and easily audited, joint clients of ABCi and the site analytics firms will be better able to sell inventory to advertisers, who seek verifiable information on site audiences.

Firms that ally with ABCi also stand to benefit by linking up with one of the space’s leading auditors — which services about 60 percent of all sites being audited — in that the arrangement encourages ABCi’s clients to also sign up for site analytics service.

The alliance also tacitly attests to the veracity of the partners’ data, or at least, to their willingness to put it to the test. For RedSheriff, that’s positioning that could prove crucial as competition in the space continues at a fever pitch.

But with WebSideStory and NetIQ each having alliances of their own with ABCi, RedSheriff’s deal is unlikely to change much among the leading firms in the site analytics market — especially after WebSideStory received a patent for its ASP-based service last month, while NetIQ released a major update to its WebTrends Reporting Center software.

AOL Latin America Signs PC Marketing Deal

America Online Latin America aims to boost its subscriber numbers through a new deal with a top Brazilian PC manufacturer.

A marketing agreement with Sao Paulo-based Metron will have AOL 7.0 software preinstalled on the company’s PCs. Icons and links throughout users’ PCs will encourage users to sign up for AOL Brazil. The PCs also will come equipped with AOL 7.0 CDs included in Metron PC packaging.

Additionally, AOL-LA is looking to incentivize signups with a limited free trial period for Metron customers who register for the AOL Brazil service.

Metron is Brazil’s leading manufacturer and retailer of PCs, according to industry researcher IDC. The company principally focuses on marketing to middle- and lower-class consumers. Previously, AOL-LA has sought deals with global PC makers.

The deal is designed to broaden AOL-LA’s subscriber base at a time when the unit is coming under increasing pressure to perform. Last week, the company said it expects membership to drop about 10 percent during second quarter, as a result of economic conditions and efforts to concentrate on fewer, but more valuable customers.

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