IAR Bits and Bytes

Pepsi Launches Sierra Mist TV-Web Effort

Pepsi is looking to build awareness for its new Sierra Mist unit by promoting the soft drink in a Web and television promotion tied into the reality TV series “Survivor.”

The brand will kick off its largest ever consumer campaign Thursday evening with “Survive with Sierra Mist,” in which television spots aim to encourage users to go online to participate in a contest.

The company’s 60-second TV spot, “Bronze Man,” will air during CBS’ “Survivor: Marquesas.” Consumers are invited to log into SierraMist.com to answer a trivia question about the commercial. Prizes include a trip to the Islands of Marquesas, or Sierra Mist-branded merchandise.

The Sierra Mist site also offers downloads and ultimately, will feature an interactive game relating to the brand.

24/7 Real Media Continues Cost-Cutting, Continues Wide Losses

Online ad network and server 24/7 Real Media said it was making headway in reducing expenses, although it again posted sizable losses for its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31.

The New York-based firm posted revenues of $11.3 million, up 36 percent from the previous quarter, while pro forma losses totaled $10.3 million, or $0.22 per share — a 15 percent improvement from third quarter.

The firm attributed the improvements to its integration of Real Media’s client base and the stamping out of redundancies emerging out of 24/7 Media’s merger with its rival in October. 24/7 Real Media began accounting for the integration in November.

Figuring in one-time charges, the firm’s net loss grows to $36.1 million, or $0.77 per share. A bulk of that figure comes from $17.2 million in restructuring and exit costs.

On a full-year basis, 24/7 Real Media reduced its pro forma losses by 14 percent, to $56.7 million, or $1.28 per share. That improvement came largely through cost-cutting and restructuring efforts — and in November and December, through the integration of Real Media — since revenue declined about 64 percent during the year, to $52.4 million.

A large portion of that revenue decline stemmed from the poor online ad market. 24/7’s media sales division saw revenue plummet from $121.9 million in 2000 to $36.5 million in 2001.

After one-time charges, the firm posted a 2001 net loss of $169.1 million, significantly down from the $689.6 the company saw in 2000.

While the company’s fourth quarter showed improvements in revenue and margins, 24/7 Real Media executives said greater benefits from the Real Media merger should become evident in the coming quarter. Revenues are anticipated to be in the $10 million to $12 million range, while pro forma operating losses will come in between $0.08 per share and $0.12 per share.

“We feel very strongly that we’ve turned the corner and in many ways reinvented the company,” said Chief Executive David Moore, who reiterated the firm’s objective of profitability by fourth quarter.

Just Say No To Pop-ups

Pop-up advertisements got you down?

Blazing Logic, a division of privately held new media and advertising company Lions Pride Enterprises Inc. (LPE) says you need not worry about them anymore.

The San Diego-based company Thursday said it would release of NoPop!, an anti-pop-up/pop-under software application that eliminates those annoying and intrusive ads that pop-up when visiting various Web sites.

The software due out in mid April 2002, would be available as a free download for a 14-day trial followed with a payment option.

The company said NoPop! has features such as the WhiteList, where users will be given the option as to which types of pop-up/pop-under advertisements they wish to block. Other features include real-time statistics and automatic program updating.

Blazing Logic said NoPop! would run on Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher. A future release is planned to enable support for AOL 6.0 and higher.

Executives at the firm added that it is working on a distribution deal in conjunction with a major ISP.

“Many users have found it difficult to find a Web site that doesn’t push annoying and intrusive pop advertisements down their throat,” said LPE Chief Executive Manuel Coats. “The jagged economic times have forced some Web publishers to produce more intrusive and flashy pop advertisements in mass quantities. As a result, Internet users are being overwhelmed with pop-up ads and have no idea how to get rid of them.”

Yet despite efforts by firms like Blazing Logic to address what it says is a dire consumer need, recent studies had shown that consumers don’t necessarily mind pop-up ads.

Last year, Dynamic Logic found that users ranked pop-up ads on par with TV ads and direct mail — and far more desirable than telemarketing calls.

Nevertheless, Blazing Logic aims to follow up on the launch with plans to release complementary products NoSpam! and NoVirus! by the end of the year.

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