IAR Bits and Bytes

I-Shop Concrete Slims Down with Eye to Closing

Web shop Concrete, Inc. is down to a skeleton staff, and founders are looking to close the company once it finishes its current projects, according to a source close to the Silicon Alley-based firm.

Like most interactive shops, Concrete — previously known as Concrete Media — offered services including branding, strategy and design work, as well as software engineering and infrastructure management. The firm was once well-known for its media work, with popular sites like Bolt and Girls On having once been a part of Concrete’s portfolio of properties. Girls On was eventually sold to Oxygen Media, and Bolt was spun-off with an eye toward an IPO, plans for which were shelved several months ago.

Despite efforts to downplay its media connections and focus on nuts-and-bolts work — symbolized by the dropping of “media” in its name — the firm, like others in its space, has suffered as a result of the slowdown in spending on Internet marketing, and the shakout among dot-com clients.

At its height, Concrete employed about 250 in New York and San Francisco. That number was down to 50 at the beginning of the week, according to the source. But at present, Concrete is reportedly down to 15 staffers, most of whom are involved in finishing up current projects and transitioning clients’ hosted applications to other servers.

Clients include ScreamingMedia, Avon, and EdificeRex.com.

According to the source, the firm might also be planning to sell its assets, including its name.

Chief executive and co-founder Aaron Cohen was unavailable for comment at press time.

CollegeClub.com Launches Ad Campaign

Student Advantage’s CollegeClub launched its first network television ad campaign this week, designed by San Diego, Calif.-based Big Bang Idea Engineering.

Student Advantage, which provides marketing services to companies looking to target college students, inherited the broadcast media relationship with NBC through its acquisition of CollegeClub.com. The ads are designed to drive traffic to the CollegeClub.com site.

The spots, “Shave” and “Moho,” promote CollegeClub.com as the online solution for various problems faced by college kids, such as an unruly roommate or paying for their education.

The commercials will air includes NBC primetime and late night, including shows like “Friends,” “Will & Grace” and “The Tonight Show.” The ads will air in seven markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Providence, R.I., Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and Raleigh Durham, N.C.

The campaign will be phased out in summer, and will resume in fall to take advantage of students returning to school.

Engage Launches Engage Echo in Europe

Online ad network Engage debuted its Echo product in Europe on Thursday.

Similar to DoubleClick Boomerang, the Andover, Mass.-based company’s Echo product allows an advertiser to “retarget” ads to people who have visited its Web site. Echo also allows advertisers to segment users — anonymously, using Engage’s profile database — based on their behavior on the Web site.

For instance, Echo could send an ad to all users who visited an advertiser’s site but did not make a purchase.

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