IAR Bits and Bytes

IAB Signs New Members

A host of new members joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau this week, which the trade association said boosted its membership to now account for more than 70 percent of the online ad industry’s revenue.

Joining the New York-based association are eBay , Google, FindWhat.com , AtomShockwave, CFO.com, CondeNet, Economist.com, Meredith Interactive Media, WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, MyPoints.com, eZula and Electronic Arts .

The inclusion of the two last members comes as something of a surprise: eZula has stirred up controversy for its TopText downloadable software, which turns Web pages’ text into links to its advertisers. Similar to offerings from firms like Gator Corp., such programs are viewed as “predatory” ad vehicles — since site publishers neither sanction nor receive payment for the links — but proponents point to the effectiveness of such efforts.

Electronic Arts, meanwhile, is a video game manufacturer, but sells advertising on its Web site and the Macromedia Shockwave-based games it hosts. Additionally, EA is the publisher of Ultima Online, a massively multi-player online roleplaying game (MMORPG), as well as one of the leading publishers of PC and console action games. Some believe that in the near future, virtual advertising in both MMPRPG and console games could become commonplace.

For its part, the IAB has said its membership is essentially open to all sellers of interactive advertising. Last year, the group changed its name from the “Internet Advertising Bureau” to include sellers of other forms of digital advertising.

“As an organization dedicated to improving the interactive advertising and marketing medium, it is important that the IAB be an inclusive resource for all publishers, regardless of size,” said IAB President and Chief Executive Greg Stuart. “The year ahead promises to be critical to the growth of the interactive medium, and IAB membership assures that member companies will be able to contribute to the overall health of the industry by participating in the important research, education and best practices/guidelines initiatives that are ongoing for IAB members.”

Match.com Signs Distribution Deal with The Excite Network

Dallas, Texas-based dating site Match.com will receive marketing and promotion across The Excite Network, as part of a new distribution deal.

The agreement stands to boost Match.com’s paid personal ad listings by having the site as a permanent sponsor on many of the Excite Networks’ channels, including horoscopes, weather, community, celebrity, men’s club and shopping. Match.com also will be the sole provider of online dating services for iWon.com, a part of the Excite Network.

Match.com, a subsidiary of Ticketmaster , also will provide content for Excite.com’s relationships and dating channel.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MSN UK Launches Wacky “Reality” Promo

The U.K. unit of Microsoft’s MSN portal is looking to draw on the popularity of TV hits like “Survivor” by launching its own online reality game — except that viewers get to control the decisions of the players.

During the course of the 15-day game, which is being advertised across MSN UK properties, the five contestants must leave important life decisions up to Web consensus. Earlier this week, voters instructed “Nik Jones” to cut her long brown hair in favor of a pink bob.

In addition to being able to control five lives during the game, voters are encouraged to sign up for the game — and for Microsoft’s Passport system — with offers of prizes (like a Microsoft Xbox).

For Microsoft, in addition to increasing signups for Passport and boosting traffic, the site also wraps links to advertisers into the game’s content.

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