IAR Bits and Bytes for Tuesday

LifeMinders Nabs Netscape

Netscape will outsource direct marketer LifeMinders’ technology platform to promote its new small business site, the companies said Thursday.

Netscape will deliver opt-in email messages to users of its Netscape Netbusiness site, which launched in September and is targeted at small business owners.

“Our technology will allow Netscape Netbusiness users to designate the information that is important to them, like news and information targeted to each user’s industry and geographic location, while allowing Netscape to deliver that information personalized to the user, directly to his or her email inbox,” said LifeMinders chief executive officer Stephen Chapin.

The deal is something of a big win for LifeMinders. Netscape Netbusiness is available in the AOL WorkPlace channel on AOL’s flagship service, which today announced that it has topped 26 million members. The site is also prominently featured on other AOL properties including Netscape Netcenter, CompuServe, ICQ, MapQuest, and Digital City.

LifeMinders said recently that it hopes to turn that outsourced technology business into a $20 million practice by the end of 2001, roughly equivalent to the companyt’s current quarterly revenue. At present, the unit is expected to turn a profit in fourth quarter 2001.

Sci-Fi Channel Taps Chiat/Day for Blair Witch Promo

An online promotional campaign and Web site designed by the New York office of TBWA/Chiat/Day has garnered more than page views.

The new Artisan film “Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows” is due for an October 27 launch, and the Sci-Fi Channel is promoting a TV special on the film with an email and Web site campaign.

The catch — the site is designed to resemble a local news Web page.

It’s a thorough facsimile: to add an element of depth and realism, the agency populated the “Action News 6” site with content ranging from video clips to hokey local content like “Cooking with Gilbert”, links to local sports and weather, and banner ads for “nearby” businesses.

The actionnewssix.com site even had some local residents of Burkittsville, MD, where the fictitious news station was based, wondering just what was going on. Local surfers reportedly called their sheriff’s office looking for more information about the “crime,” and about a fictitious Oktoberfest event posted in the site’s mock community calendar.

Banner ads on the site linked to mock business Web pages (“Burkittsville Bait & Tackle”; “Brent Hodgins, Attorney At Law”) on Tripod and Geocities. The agency also created email addresses for Action News 6 reporters, which account team members monitor and to which they respond in character.

A direct email campaign drove traffic to the site. Users who had previously registered with Sci-Fi were delivered “headlines” and a video clip on the breaking Blair Witch story. RadicalMail handled the distribution.

Alliances with underground news sites such as disinfo.com as well as ClickTV and College Gear also were used to drive traffic.

“We also did some banner placements, with banners that look liked headline tickers, with the murder,” said Doug Jaeger, who headed the TBWA/Chiat/Day team responsible for the campaign. “People don’t know whether it’s real or not.”

Jaeger said the agency was making “constant changes to the Web site” in response to consumer response, which not only includes site traffic and email, but guestbooks on the local businesses’ Web pages.

“We’ve created a living media entity, which is very exciting,” Jaeger said of the work, which began Oct. 9. “The Sci-Fi Channel came to us, and said they wanted to promote the special on the channel. That gave us an opportunity to create virtual PR about the murders, which is want the show on Sci-Fi is about.”

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