Trilegiant, E-centives Strike Technology Pact

Online marketing firm E-centives will provide the technology for Trilegiant to power the email portions of its Web incentives programs.

Financial terms were not disclosed of the arrangement between the two firms. Under the agreement, Bethesda, Md.-based E-centives will provide its ASP-based email marketing system to Trilegiant’s Loyalty Solutions unit, which in turn will use the system to power the email components of reward systems for clients, and for programs that it manages itself.

Norwalk, Conn.-based Trilegiant Loyalty Solutions manages offline rewards programs for a host of big-name financial and travel institutions — which offer such programs as a way to encourage consumers to use their services frequently.

Trilegiant Loyalty Solutions also oversees the incentives and redemption for Trilegiant’s discount membership groups, which includes Travelers’ Advantage, Shoppers’ Advantage, and other well-known programs. The company came into being last year after being spun out from Cendant Corp. , which had been wracked by accounting scandals.

Trilegiant’s area of expertise “is on the loyalty points side, and they are not a technology firm,” said Dadi Akhavan, E-centives’ chief operating officer and president. “We, on the other hand, are a technology firm … providing the platform for them, some of their clients, and their subsidiaries. We think the combination for the two of us makes a lot of sense.”

The first Trilegiant programs powered by E-centives’ email marketing technology are expected in first quarter.

For E-centives, the deal marks a major win as the firm works to concentrate on its core businesses of email and database marketing. Earlier this year, the company announced its intention to close its e-commerce unit. Last year it had issued about $20 million in stock to Inktomi to enhance that unit by acquiring the search firm’s own commerce technology.

While it’s unclear at this point which Trilegiant clients E-centives will be servicing through the arrangement, the company said it was aiming to strike similar deals with other offline incentive program providers.

“We’re very much at the initial stage with them,” Akhavan said. “The deal is pretty fresh and pretty new … and we’re looking for other relationships like this.”

Meanwhile, the move is the latest effort by Trilegiant aimed at leveraging its weight in the offline loyalty world to gain a similar presence in the online space. Last year, the company took over Cendant’s old agreement with AOL Time Warner’s Internet division, to offer America Online subscribers membership into programs managed by Trilegiant.

In February, Trilegiant closed on its bid for patents in the online loyalty space owned by now-defunct Netcentives, which had provided technology for companies to manage their own rewards programs.

“Our charter in loyalty marketing is to offer an even wider range of innovative services to our clients,” said Scott Lazear, senior vice president of strategic business development for Trilegiant Loyalty Solutions.

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