IAR Bits and Bytes

Expedia, Ticketmaster Ally Ahead of USAI Buyout

Following the announcement that Barry Diller’s USA Interactive will buy up the remainder of Expedia and Ticketmaster-Citysearch that it doesn’t already own, the two firms are striking a marketing alliance.

Through the deal, Citysearch.com will create a new Gateways content area, which will focus on trips and use Expedia.com’s booking engine.

Meanwhile, Expedia.com will feature Citysearch local content, and selected Ticketmaster event tickets.

The alliance marks the first time that the two USA Interactive companies have announced such a wide-ranging agreement, though the firms worked together in a pilot program earlier this year. Through that program, Expedia.com featured tickets to an Orlando Magic basketball game to customers booking a trip to Orlando, Fla., while travelers to New York received offers of tickets to “Rent” on Broadway.

“Expedia and Ticketmaster are working to provide a seamless shopping experience for everything travelers might want to do once they book their trips — from tickets to sporting events and concerts to theatrical productions,” said John Pleasants, president and CEO of Ticketmaster. “Our earlier collaborations have proven successful, and we look forward to continuing to provide even more options that round out people’s trips.”

USAI Chairman and CEO Diller’s $4.5 billion buyout, which also includes an offer for the remainder of Hotels.com , would create a vacation, travel and entertainment e-commerce powerhouse. New York-based USAI is offering stockholders of the three subsidiaries the chance to exchange their shares for USAI shares at a 7.5 percent premium.

The move comes just three days after USA announced it would shell out $578 million in cash and stock to purchase Interval International, which specializes in sales of vacation timeshares.

Omnicom Acquires Online/Offline Fundraising Firm

In a move to boost its marketing offerings to the non-profit sector, ad holding company giant Omnicom Group has acquired Changing Our World, a New York-based company that provides online and offline fundraising services.

Financial term of the deal weren’t disclosed.

New York-based Changing Our World will continue to operate independently but will join the Nonprofit Fundraising and Communications Group within Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services (DAS) division. Its sister companies within the group include Grizzard Communications Group, Russ Reid Company, and Steve Cram & Associates.

The companies said the acquisition adds Changing Our World’s expertise in major gift fundraising and philanthropic consulting to the group, whose strengths lie in direct marketing, government fundraising, and multimedia production. Omnicom plans to provide the resources to help Changing Our World grow more quickly than it could as an independent firm.

“Changing Our World is a very unique fit into this group, given that they are particularly strong in tapping into philanthropic organizations and designing campaigns for educational and medical non-profit organizations,” said Michael Birkin, president of DAS.

The smaller company runs its online operations through a unit called ChangingOurWorld.com. Besides consulting on how best to utilize the online channel, it performs services like email list building and email marketing. The division also runs nine Web sites and email publications aimed at professionals working in the non-profit field.

WestWayne Acquires breatheinteractive

Atlanta-based independent ad agency WestWayne has acquired i-shop breatheinteractive, in a bid to boost its direct and interactive marketing capabilities.

The firms have worked together since breatheinteractive’s founding in early 2001, though the move will formalize their joint efforts. breatheinteactive is expected to maintain both its name and independent client roster, which includes Circuit City, Cysive and HomeBanc, while working more closely with WestWayne’s clients.

“breatheinteractive’s quality, and its highly sophisticated services and disciplined approach to brand architecture and metrics, enhance our current offerings, and elevate the agency’s strategic branding and integration process for clients,” said WestWayne Chief Executive Jeff Johnson. “They deepen integration across the agency and they represent the future of integrated marketing. This absolutely makes us more competitive.”

breatheinteractive came into being as a result of the dot-com fallout in Atlanta. Three of the company’s founders came from another Atlanta interactive shop, 360i.com, while managing partner of brand strategy Scott Hagedorn had previously served at Mpower Communications, a 360i.com client. Hagedorn had also held a post at WestWayne.

WestWayne, meanwhile, was formed in 1996 through the merger of then-74-year old Tucker Wayne and Tampa, Fla.-based West Group.

MediaBin, EyeWonder Team Up

Atlanta-based streaming video firm EyeWonder has signed an agreement with MediaBin to jointly offer services to help clients more easily manage and deliver streaming video.

By using EyeWonder’s player-independent streaming video platform with MediaBin’s digital asset management software, companies can deliver video that uses up-to-date logos, clips, photos and other assets.

“The combination of EyeWonder’s revolutionary video technology with MediaBin’s next-generation Digital Asset Management system makes it easier for marketers to deploy rich media promotions and will revolutionize corporate communications,” adds Burt Smith, vice president of strategic alliances for MediaBin.

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