AltaVista Building Opt-In E-Mail List

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Search engine AltaVista ( confirmed today that it is building an opt-in e-mail list to be developed and managed by e-mail list firm NetCreations, New York. The confirmation makes AltaVista the first major search engine or portal to begin building an e-mail marketing list to be managed by a list firm.

AltaVista also is the third portal that has begun recently moving toward direct marketing. The other two were Yahoo with its acquisition of online direct marketing firm Yoyodyne last month and Excite with its announcement earlier this week that it will feature merchandise from specialty cataloger Hanover in a catalog department that the search engine is launching.

"Everybody thought the Web was about branding, and now they've woken up and realized it's about direct marketing," said Rosalind Resnick, president of NetCreations. "We're incredibly optimistic that this is going to create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of names for our database."

AltaVista's e-mail list building initiative is part of a shopping section the firm is launching at for this year's holiday shopping rush.

"This was created very specifically for users to receive promotions from companies that they're interested in hearing from, and for advertisers to be able to do mailings to folks who have a agreed to receive them," said Perry Allison, director of advertising and sponsorship sales at AltaVista, San Mateo, CA, a division of the Compaq Computer Corp.

Allison said AltaVista has taken steps to avoid being labeled a spammer.

"The list is double opt-in. It's a test," she said. "If we get negative feedback, we'll pull the plug."

AltaVista's e-mail list has great potential. The portal is promoting the shopping section on its home page and last week for the first time had 40-million home page impressions in one day, Allison said. AltaVista averages 100 million home-page impressions a month, she said.

As for the major search engines' apparent recent embrace of direct marketing, Allison said, "The Web has always been viewed as a powerful direct marketing vehicle, but I think people are getting smarter about it."

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