IAR Bits and Bytes for Monday

marchFIRST Names New CFO

Chicago-based interactive agency and integrator marchFIRST Monday tapped Michael Salvati to fill its top financial post.

As chief financial officer, Salvati replaces Peter Murphy. who the company said left to pursue other interests.

The new CFO has more than 24 years of financial and operational experience. As vice president of finance and CFO for Culligan Water Technologies, he managed the company’s financial operations, including mergers and acquisitions, as its revenues grew from $325 million in 1996 to more than $650 million in 1998. Culligan merged into United States Filter Corporation in June 1998.

Before that, Salvati spent 16 years at KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, six of which was as a partner in its corporate transactions group. Salvati also served as an adviser to financial groups and large companies that were focused on reorganizing operations, maximizing cash flow and operational performance, implementing cost-cutting initiatives and improving financial return.

After his time at Culligan, Salvati was a principal at Oak Ridge Consulting, Inc., where he provided management consulting and corporate advisory services — with an emphasis on financial restructuring, operational assessment, and financial and strategic planning.

That experience will likely be exceedingly important in the coming months, as marchFIRST has undertaken several major business overhauls and staff reductions aimed at shoring up the firm and reaching profitability.

CompUSA Taps AvantGo for Wireless Couponing

Computer and computer products retailer CompUSA has started a wireless couponing program, using AvantGo as its distribution partner.

AvantGo, which repackages and distributes Web content to Palm and PocketPC PDAs via a wireless connection or through downloads, will carry a coupon for a 10 percent discount on PDA accessories, from now through March 10. Users must bring in their handheld device and show the coupon to the cashier.

Accessmagazine.com Launches Ad Network

The online component of Access Magazine — a tech-oriented consumer magazine inserted into daily newspapers — is aiming at turning its Web content sharing business into big ad bucks, by launching a national ad network.

Similarly to larger online ad networks, the Access network will feature a variety of content-specific channels — news, automotive, sports, business, finance, travel and entertainment, real estate and jobs.

The concept is that readers know, trust, and prefer receiving content from their local publications, many of which include more information about articles on their Web sites.

The network will enable advertisers to buy banners in the Web sites of more than 30 local newspaper, delivering about 150 million impressions per month. Eventually, Needham, Mass.-based Access anticipates more of its 84 offline distributors joining the network.

Run of network ads are being priced at a $15 CPM, while channel CPMs are in the $25 to $30 range, the company said. Advertisers who run in both the magazine and anywhere in the network — except run of site — receive a discount off the rate card.

CoolSavings and Hot Coupons Settle Patent Infringement Suit

Chicago-based online incentive marketer CoolSavings.com Monday reached an agreement with rival Hot Coupons, concluding the two companies’ joint patent infringement suits.

CoolSavings sued Hot Coupons — along with eight other competitors — shortly after receiving its patent in 1998, alleging that the company used proprietary and patented techniques to serve and handle online coupons.

Although specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed, Hot Coupons has been granted a limited, royalty-bearing license and an option to an unlimited license, which together would allow for future offerings based on CoolSavings’ technology.

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