IAR Bits and Bytes

Espotting Expands Context-Ad Deal

Just a week after suffering a major blow at home with the loss of Ask Jeeves UK, British paid search company Espotting Media announced it expanded its contextual-advertising agreement with European shopping engine Kelkoo.

With the new deal, Espotting’s contextual ads will appear on a total of 30 Kelkoo channels in four countries — the UK, France, Germany and Spain. The two companies first linked up in November 2001 for a contextual-advertising deal that covered three of its UK channels. Kelkoo supplies the top five “sponsored links” on categories that contain keywords corresponding with Espotting’s keyword listings.

The company also has contextual-advertising deals with Lycos, O2, Doo yoo and La Tribune.

Contextual advertising has gotten lots of attention lately, since paid search leaders Google and Overture Services set their eyes on the market. Primedia’s Sprinks is also a player, with its contextual links appearing on Forbes.com, CBS Marketwatch and throughout About.com.

Overture Italy Debuts

Overture Services officially announced on Wednesday the opening of its operations in Italy, marking the sixth market the company has entered.

The Milan-based operations, which have been up and running for weeks, will distribute paid listings on Overture’s local partners, including Tiscali, Lycos Europe and Excite.

“At launch, we have agreements with several key Italian partners and we look forward to expanding our distribution network with a broader range of search products and services in the coming months,” said Johannes Larcher, Overture International’s general manager.

Overture plans to open operations in five more European markets this year as it faces steep competition from Google and rising concerns over its dependence on distribution partners Yahoo and MSN.

CC3 Buys Chunk of @Once

Direct marketer CC3 announced on Wednesday that it acquired a “significant interest” in messaging provider @Once, in a deal the company said would buff up its offline-online marketing capabilities.

Ivyland, Penn.-based CC3 now plans to offer a suite of marketing services, ranging from direct mail to email. @Once has built campaigns for the likes of Nike, Nintendo and the Home Shopping Network.

“Through this transaction, we have created a new model in direct marketing by transcending the standard vendor/provider relationship,” said Don McKenzie, CC3’s president and chief executive.

Neither the size of the stake CC3 acquired in @Once nor other financial details were disclosed. McKenzie will become a member of @Once’s board of directors.

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