*Land Grab Continues Among Loyalty Points Providers

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There has been a great deal of activity among online loyalty points providers as competitors large and small work to better solidify their standing in the space.

S&H Greenpoints.com today is expected to announce its Click & Earn program. Last week, WebMiles partnered with Ralphs Grocery Co., and MyPoints teamed with Edventions Inc. Netcentives also announced it will be the back end for the TWA Aviators ShopSmart program.

These companies are in the midst of a land grab as the space continues to fill up with competitors, said Tim Choate, CEO of FreeShop.com, Seattle, an online direct marketing site. "There are more players out there than there is customer demand," he said. "You don't need 10 online loyalty providers, so everyone is trying to cement themselves everywhere."

S&H Greenpoints.com, a little more than 160 days into the game, is working to get a foothold in the industry. Its new Click & Earn program allows users to earn points for completing actions desired by client sites such as filling out a survey, signing up for a newsletter, registering at a site or downloading information.

Members can earn and spend the points at more than 100 online retailers at Greenpoints.com, as well as offline at Foodtown supermarkets in New York and later this year through the S&H/Fleet credit card.

There seems to be no shortage of interested consumers, as Greenpoints.com has 2.2 million members already and is creeping up on 1 billion points redeemed, said Richard Gurin, CEO of S&H Greenpoints.com Inc., Manchester, MA. "We're very enthusiastic about this industry. We're evolving into a direct marketing solutions business, versus what people often think of an advertising and gimmick business."

Competitor WebMiles last week announced a partnership with 28 Ralphs Grocery Stores in the San Diego area. Ralphs Card Club members earn one WebMiles reward for every dollar spent at the stores. Rewards from WebMiles, Salt Lake City, can be redeemed for unrestricted airline miles.

MyPoints.com, San Francisco, last week said it would build a co-branded program with Edventions Inc. Edventions, Skokie, IL, leverages technology to improve the educational process. The program will reward parents and teachers for the time they spend online helping their children or students.

Netcentives, San Francisco, further strengthened its standing as one of the back-end providers of choice by announcing it will power the TWA Aviators ShopSmart program. Under the agreement, members will be able to spend TWA miles at 20 Netcentives merchants, including Eddie Bauer, Spiegel and The Sharper Image. The announcement was made Aug. 15.

The jockeying for position is likely to continue until something gives, Choate said. "There's going to have to be a clean-out phase before there's a dominant player," he said. "That's what MyPoints and Netcentives are pushing for with their models, although there will always be a number of small players."

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