Berenson, Isham Acquires InterActive's Web Division

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In a move that already has helped the agency win a new client, Berenson, Isham & Partners, Boston, boosted its Web capabilities last month with the acquisition of the Web division of InterActive Promotions, Boston.

Through the acquisition, InterActive Promotions president Harry Gold has joined Berenson, Isham & Partners as vice president of interactive marketing, and his associate Andrew Abrahams has joined as new media manager. The cost of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Berenson, Isham has had an interactive department for several years. It has created Web sites for such clients as the syndicated National Public Radio show "Car Talk," but it thought the InterActive Promotions acquisition would add a new level of sophistication to its Web service offerings.

"Most companies have Web sites at this point. Our goal will be to make the sites profitable, drive traffic to them and make them more utilitarian than online brochures, as many of them are," said Anders Ekman, president of Berenson, Isham & Partners.

Since the acquisition, which took place in early April, audio equipment company Boston Acoustics has hired the agency for an interactive assignment, a win that Ekman attributes in part to the additional experience of Gold and Abrahams.

InterActive Promotions had focused its Web work on three areas: content, which includes creation of contests and incentives to spur interest and drive prospects to a site; development and design, including back-end shopping carts, database connections and customized pages; and promotions, such as search-engine indexing, placement of banner ads and cross- promotions with other sites.

"We wouldn't just create a site and launch it into the vastness of cyberspace. We named the company InterActive Promotions because we follow with careful promotion," Gold said.

Several of these services will be employed in the assignment the agency is creating for Boston Acoustics. The agency will create a site specifically to promote new high-end computer speakers that also can be hooked up to stereos and other products with audio capabilities.

Among the promotions already planned for the site is a cross-promotion with CD-ROM Access in which Boston Acoustics will raffle off a shopping spree at CD-ROM Access and CD-ROM Access will raffle off a set of the new speakers. The two sites will have links to each other, Gold said.

"Linking has a one-time cost," he said, "and it forever funnels traffic to a site."

The agency also will re-work Boston Acoustics' corporate Web site.

Berenson, Isham has folded InterActive Promotions into its overall marketing structure.

"We will not turn this into a separate profit center," Ekman said. "It's so much a part of what we do that to turn it into a separate profit center fighting for dollars is not worthwhile."

Berenson, Isham, founded in 1971, operates under a philosophy it calls measured marketing, which entails taking a marketing consulting role with its clients.

"We look at the profit and loss of what we're doing for clients instead of just response and conversion rates," Ekman said. "For example, a campaign might have good response and conversion rates, but it may be a campaign for a low-profit product. We might bring up that it might be more worthwhile to create a marketing campaign for a higher-profit product."

Working within the measured marketing philosophy was one of the points that Gold said he found attractive about joining Berenson, Isham.

"It looks at what happened to the money and what business was brought in," he said.

He added that he also welcomed the opportunity to work with Berenson, Isham's higher-profile clients and the chance to focus on Web skills without being distracted by the day-to-day responsibilities of running his own company.

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