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Yahoo! Signs J.D. Powers in Services Push

Continuing recent efforts at positioning itself as a provider of marketing services, Yahoo! will begin delivering surveys to its users, through a new agreement with research player J.D. Power and Associates.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. Through the deal, the Web portal will deliver surveys to elicit users' opinions on products and services in the automotive, financial services, telecom, travel, utilities and home building industries.

"Yahoo!'s impressive global community of users and their proven online technical expertise will enhance our ability to provide actionable information across industries and cultures," said Stephen Goodall, president and chief operating officer at Agoura Hills, Calif.-based J.D. Power. "This agreement complements our core research capabilities by capitalizing on the global reach and immediacy of the Internet."

The move comes as Yahoo! is stepping up efforts to woo marketing firms as service clients, as it strives to wean itself somewhat off its dependency on advertising sales. In June, the company began promoting its Webcasting services as channel for corporate communications.

During an analyst briefing at its Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters in November, Yahoo! executives said the portal had been in discussions with "a number" of consumer marketing research firms about rolling out site-wide surveys. Now, the portal has its first client.

The pitch to marketers focused on Yahoo!'s ability to automatically segment audiences by the content they viewed, and to target audiences with specific surveys based on information they volunteered on registration.

"With the largest global audience on the Web and a superior competency in identifying very specific target audiences, Yahoo! has the unique ability to offer J.D. Power the ideal platform to expand their online initiatives and rapidly target and acquire survey participants in an efficient and cost-effective manner," said Greg Coleman, who is executive vice president for North American operations at Yahoo!. "We feel there is tremendous opportunity in the research marketplace for Yahoo! and we are thrilled that J.D. Power, a leader in the research industry, is working with us."

Though the agreement marks a measure of success in Yahoo!'s efforts to win new marketing clients, the deal also entails a shopping component -- another major element of the site's campaign to reduce its reliance on ad revenues.

Through that part of the arrangement, Yahoo! will promote and sell J.D. Power's reports on automotive quality and consumer satisfaction in its Autos section, as it currently does with reports from ConsumerReports.org.