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CyberCash Looks to Capitalize on Affiliate Marketing

Electronic payment pioneer CyberCash Inc. Tuesday invested $7 million in Commission Junction, looking to capitalize on the growth of affiliate marketing on the Internet.

The companies also announced plans to integrate CyberCash's InstaBuy one-click shopping service with Commission Junction's network of affiliate sites. InstaBuy supports one-click shopping on e-commerce sites by allowing consumers to make a purchase through a banner ad rather than having to click through to reach the merchant.

Commission Junction has a group of more than 85,000 affiliates. Internet merchants can choose the affiliates that will reach their target audience. The fee merchants pay is based on the number of sales that come from affiliates. The program is free for affiliates. Merchants pay a one-time fee of $795, put $250 in an escrow account to cover commissions and agree to give affiliates 20 percent of their total commission.

Lex Sisney, co-founder and president of Commission Junction, said the combination of Commission Junction and CyberCash will spur the growth of affiliate marketing. One of the most successful current examples of affiliate marketing is Amazon.com.

"We think this feature alone will have a significant impact by allowing merchants to greatly expand their reach and affiliates to quickly turn their traffic into income... One-click shopping will turn products into purchases and purchases into profits for all parties involved," he said.

Sisney said his service strengthens affiliate marketing by making it easier for merchants and affiliates to work together. Both sides can also track the effectiveness of their programs through real-time statistics on every sales lead and transaction. That data is also aggregated into a monthly report sent to both affiliates and merchants.

Nancy Goldberg, CyberCash's executive vice-president, said the Internet's greatest advantage is also one of its biggest weaknesses: Although consumers are always only one click away from any Internet commerce site, the consumers are also always no more than one-click away from that site's competitors.

"The key to commerce on the Internet is two-pronged: consumers and merchants. Our mission is to make business easier between these two principles," she said.

The system will be available to CyberCash and Commission Junction merchants and affiliates by early in the fourth quarter.