IAR Bits and Bytes

MasterCard Taps Roving

Self-service email marketer Roving Software will provide its technology to MasterCard International.

The financial services giant will use Needham, Mass.-based Roving’s email marketing tools, Constant Contact, in its roster of online products and services for business customers.

Through the arrangement, Constant Contact will appear in MasterCard’s small business customer site. The Web-based application allows marketers to build, manage and rent opt-in email lists, create and deliver email messages, and track results.

“MasterCard is clearly a leader in helping businesses grow, providing all the tools and services that small business owners need, in one easy-to- navigate location,” said Gail Goodman, chief executive officer of Roving Software. “We are thrilled to be working with MasterCard and promoting Constant Contact to their extensive customer base.”

“Permission-based email marketing is recognized as a critical application,” said Steve Harrison, MasterCard International. “By bringing Constant Contact to our small- and mid-sized business customers, we are providing an affordable and easy-to-use service that will help them communicate and build stronger relationships with their customers, ultimately making their businesses more successful.”

The agreement is the latest effort by Web publishers — in this case, MasterCard.com — to offer do-it-yourself online marketing tools to small business clients. Last month, Weather.com tapped Amazing Media to launch self-service rich media banners, while Yahoo signed a deal with GotMarketing to offer its email service as part of Yahoo Small Business.

Interep’s Perfect Circle Media Becomes 24/7 Connect Client

Interep Interactive, a unit of radio sales giant Interep, will use the ad serving technology of 24/7 Real Media.

Through the agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, Interep Interactive’s Perfect Circle Media subsidiary will begin using 24/7 Connect as its ASP ad server, just days after the product’s official debut on Nov. 1.

Perfect Circle represents a roster of 20 sites, including StockHouse, Idea Advisor, ChangeWave, MyDiscountBroker and others that contribute to more than 250 million monthly page views.

The deal marks the first time a third-party ad serving client will use Connect with its new OptiProfit optimization tools. (YellowPages.com became the company’s first Connect client in October.) It’s also the first time that any of Interep’s online rep firms — which also include Cybereps and Winstar Interactive Media — have designated a specific ad serving platform.

Interep Interactive president Adam Guild said the firm made its decision based on Connect’s auto-tagging features. According to the company, the agreement with 24/7 Real Media leaves the door open for expanding the arrangement to include Cybereps and WIM.

24/7 Real Media officially launches 24/7 Connect as an ASP on November 1st. Last month the Company announced that YellowPages.com was the first major site to transition to Connect as part of a pilot program which ran through the end of October.

Agency.com Cuts Staff

Interactive shop Agency.com continues to downsize, following its acquisition by Seneca Investments.

The company declined to comment on what percentage the cuts represented, although sources close to the company say several hundred were let go from its New York headquarters.

A spokesman for the company, which in September had about 1,000 employees, said whatever cuts had been made were an effort to “more effectively balance its financial responsibilities with the needs of its clients.”

It is not known whether the staff cuts come about as part of the company’s earlier restructuring, or as a wholly new effort to reduce costs.

“Better aligned resources allow us to more efficiently address the demand for our interactive services,” said the spokesman. “By taking this action now, we believe we’re better positioned to service our clients through this challenging economic environment.”

The spokesman said the firm has no further plans for layoffs at the moment.

Just last week, Agency.com’s shareholders voted for the company to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Seneca, a holding company established by onetime minority shareholder Omnicom Group to consolidate its interactive investments. Seneca also has announced similar plans for rival interactive agency Organic.

IVT Completes Digital Lava Asset Purchase

New York-based rich media firm Interactive Video Technologies has completed its purchase of the assets of Digital Lava, a streaming media tech company. The sale, which the companies finalized in late September, came amid a $700,000 liquidation plan.

IVT, based in Marina Del Rey, Calif., said it will take over all of Digital Lava’s products and its client and vendor relationships.

Specifically, IVT will begin marketing its flagship streaming media product MediaPlatform to former Digital Lava clients.

With the completion of the asset sale, Digital Lava intends to wind down its business, dispose of its remaining property, discharge its liabilities and distribute any remaining assets to its stockholders. IVT will remain a privately held company.

As part of the deal, Interactive Video Technologies will continue to market and support Digital Lava’s rich media applications, which were used in corporate communications, sales, marketing and training. This includes Digital Lava’s eponymous rich media publishing application and its HotFoot rich media creation tool.

Universal’s “The Viewing Lounge” Nabs Clients

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Universal Music Group is hoping to turn broadband entertainment into an advertiser-supported moneymaker, with the announcement of new clients for its “The Viewing Lounge.”

New clients for the company’s music videos-on-demand service include Pepsi-Cola Co., a unit of PepsiCo, and AOL Time Warner’s Road Runner.

The company sells advertising according to content channels — such as pop, rock, R&B. Those categories correspond nicely with specific demographics, and since spots are delivered in-stream — among music videos — Universal said the ads are likely to be more noticeable than banner ads.

Aside from the streaming ad unit — in which Universal said it expects most clients will use television spots — TVL also offers a second, direct-response area embedded in the site’s rich media player.

Pepsi-Cola will be advertising its current promotion for Pepsistuff.com, on TVL. The Pepsistuff.com campaign, which includes TV spots and rich media ads, features a variety of Universal artists such as Interscope’s Smash Mouth. The spots will run through January.

Road Runner, meanwhile, is airing a national advertising campaign touting its new programming, with particular emphasis on TVL with its unique program functionality and wide variety of music videos.

To promote the service to consumers, TVL is launching TV commercials in the top 10 broadband markets — San Diego, Boston, San Francisco, Hartford, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, New York, and Philadelphia. TVL said it would run spots on the Burly Bear Network, a college-oriented cable network.

Thruport Launches New AdJuggler

Alexandria, Va.-based Thruport Technologies said it plans to ship the new version of its AdJuggler ad server next week.

AdJuggler version 2.5 offers enhanced inventory management, ad frequency capping and post-click tracking.

Pricing for hosted AdJuggler 2.5 starts at $299 per month, with existing hosted customers receiving the upgrade as part of their normal maintenance agreement. Prices were not disclosed for licensed versions.

“These core enhancements to AdJuggler demonstrate Thruport’s commitment to ongoing product improvement,” said Thruport founder and CEO Bruce Waldack. “The market has severely punished ad technology and service providers who remain out-of-sync with customer demands, especially in an advertising market that currently demands both performance and value in an ad serving solution. AdJuggler 2.5 delivers on all counts.”

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