Flycast to Offer Network Sites E-Commerce Store Fronts

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Flycast Communications plans to announce this week that it can place shopping areas, including links to outside catalogers and cyber-merchants, on sites in its ad network.

The San Francisco firm struck a deal that brings the Flycast Network's 1,200 sites and roughly 25 million monthly visitors together with the 2,500 online merchants affiliated with e-commerce infrastructure firm Inc., Redmond, WA.

The move widens Flycast's foray into the e-commerce realm. In August, it formed a division that lets marketers advertise on e-mail publications. The step followed e-mail ventures by 24/7 Media Inc. and DoubleClick Inc. And just as it did then, Flycast is differentiating itself from its New York-based rivals by touting its shopping and product information program, Flycast Valet, as the right solution for small and mid-sized Web sites.

Valet lets affiliates place search capability on their sites, and online marketers will be able to buy keywords from Flycast so any searches performed on the network will prompt their banners on results pages. It also plans to sell buttons and other sponsorships on e-commerce pages associated with specific product categories.

InfoSpace is in the business of building e-commerce capability for Web sites, and the deal with Flycast is not exclusive. But the ad network's executives stressed that InfoSpace has built a customized shopping and product information program for Flycast that will vary to match a particular site's color and feel.

Both cyberfirms are tapping into the other's vast online partnerships, said Lyn Chitow Oakes, Flycast's chief marketing officer.

"In the same way it would take us a long time to develop the merchant relationships [of InfoSpace], it would take them a long time and resources to develop relationships with 1,200 sites," Oakes said.

She would not discuss terms of the pact between the two firms. Flycast will arrange a revenue-sharing agreement with participating affiliate sites "similar to the banner network," she said. Sites also will be able to earn sales commissions through various merchants' affiliate programs. Flycast began telling network sites about the program last week.

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