IAR Bits and Bytes for December 9, 2003

ValueClick Raises Revenue Outlook; 2004 to Soar

ValueClick revised its financial guidance for the fourth quarter of 2003 upward and issued optimistic guidance for 2004.

For the Q4 2003, the online marketing firm anticipates revenue of approximately $27 million, up $2 million from its prior guidance and an approximate 44 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The company’s 2003 results will reflect total revenue in the range of $90.0 million, an increase from prior guidance range of $87.0 million.

The 2003 results will include one month’s operation of affiliate player Commission Junction, which it acquired in a deal worth around $58 million. That deal was completed yesterday.

Additionally, ValueClick’s guidance for fiscal year 2004 forecasts revenue 50 percent higher than its 2003 guidance, an increase to approximately $135 million. The boosted numbers suggest ValueClick, which has advanced its business largely through acquisitions, is benefiting from the general improvement in the online marketing sector’s fortunes. The announcement marks the second time in as many quarters the company has raised guidance.

“Our upward revision to our 2003 guidance and our new 2004 guidance illustrate our confidence in ValueClick’s ability to deliver strong organic growth next year, as well as growth from the businesses we acquired in 2003,” said James Zarley, ValueClick’s chairman and CEO.

Interface Errors Spell Doom for E-mailers

E-mail usability and interface failures are linked with an erosion of customer trust, according to a new study by usability expert Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group.

Findings suggest processing the e-mail inbox is a major source of stress for users, who do not hesitate to delete e-mail containing what the report described as “fluff,” even from known senders.

Researchers observed people in the process of managing their e-mail, including their interactions with automated transactional e-mail. They selected users of diverse age, gender and Internet experience.

Among the report’s other findings: People approach commercial e-mail with a skeptical “show-me” posture; e-mail that respects users’ time and gets to the point gives a favorable impression of the sender; not recognizing the sender is a top reason people do not open a message; and many people manage e-mail by first deciding what to delete.

“Poorly designed e-mail can erode a company’s credibility… Many design elements caused companies to be rated down by as must as two points on a 1 to 7 scale,” said Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman Group.

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