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RealTime IT News

Be Free Launches New Service in Europe

[London, ENGLAND] Affiliate marketing company Be Free announced Tuesday the launch of its performance-based service in Europe, forecasting a "sea-change" in online marketing on that side of the Atlantic.

Having already secured brand name customers in the U.K. such as BOL.com, Ask Jeeves UK, Gateway UK, lastminute.com and QXL, Be Free has decided to mount a full-scale attack on the European market. It claims its next generation of hosted online marketing services will fundamentally change the way companies market their products and services on the Internet.

The new service enables companies to execute performance-based affiliate schemes and deliver personalized product and content recommendations on their Web sites using Be Free's hosted services.

Gordon Hoffstein, Be Free's chairman and chief executive, said the market potential for his company is huge because the e-commerce industry is looking for alternatives to traditional online marketing techniques.

"We will be offering online merchants in Europe a fully hosted, custom-branded service where they can create and own their affiliate sales channel, instead of operating in a 'shared' network, in which they run the risk of loosing financial and marketing autonomy," explained Hoffstein.

Hoffstein's ideas appear to be well supported by major clients in Europe. Ernst Boesch, vice president of international marketing at BOL, said affiliate marketing is emerging as the most cost-effective way to acquire new customers, increase sales and extend brand reach.

"Be Free's affiliate marketing solution allowed us to develop affiliate channels in six countries and realize the strength of performance-based affiliate marketing in Europe," said Boesch.

Pete Flint, head of distribution at lastminute.com, said Be Free's online marketing service enables lastminute.com to expand its own affiliate sales channel and manage relationships more effectively.

According to recent forecasts by research company Forrester, the pay-for-performance market will reach US $12 billion by 2003, with 21 percent of business-to-consumer online sales accounted for through strategic affiliate marketing programmes.

Currently, Be Free maintains offices in both the U.K. and France, but says it will extend its European operations during the coming year.