Stories by Ben Hammer

The axe falls at MarchFirst, reports say

Consulting firm MarchFirst Inc. (MRCH) , on its last legs, began laying off employees Thursday after days and weeks of rumors that it would cut up to half its staff and reorganize.

Net ad group lands a CEO

The Internet Advertising Bureau, which represents an industry suffering deeply from the deflating dot-com bubble, hired a CEO on Tuesday responsible for opening a New York office and organizing a full-time membership relations, marketing and professional-development staff.

Amazon's Ad Agency Walks

The ad agency FCB Worldwide resigned its account today in a bold way after the online retailer invited it to compete with other agencies for future worldwide billings. FCB had been's agency of record in the U.S. for three and a half years.

Andersen Consulting Puts Accent on New Name

Andersen Consulting Inc. said Thursday that it would drop its name and become Accenture on Jan. 1, taking another step away from accounting firm Arthur Andersen and toward a public offering of stock.

AOL Links Instant Messenger Services

Without publicizing its work, America Online Inc. has linked its two instant messaging systems, AOL Instant Messenger, or IM, and ICQ, moving the company closer to creating a worldwide, 140-million-customer system, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. AOL's dominance in instant messaging has been a major concern of regulators looking at the planned merger of AOL and Time Warner Inc.

Webvan to Buy for US$1.2B

Internet-based grocery delivery service Webvan Group Inc. announced Monday that it will buy competitor Inc. in an all-stock deal valued at US$1.2 billion. The purchase would further consolidate a sector of electronic retailing that has struggled to prove its long-term profit potential. Fires 60 Employees, an online seller of corporate and government training software, has handed out 60 pink slips and all but closed an office in Sausalito, Calif., in an effort to reduce its burn rate by $10 million a year.

MarchFirst Lays Off 260 Workers

MarchFIRST, the combined entity of technology-consulting firm Whittman-Hart and Internet marketing-consulting firm USWeb/CKS, has laid off 260 employees from the beginning of January through the middle of May, CEO Robert Bernard said yesterday.

GM's 'Ticket to Ride'

General Motors Corp. launched a new six-week online marketing campaign today to win new car buyers for its brands. The company will offer incentives of up to $750 and e-commerce gift certificates to lure Web site visitors into showrooms for test drives and final talks over cars they've configured online.

24/7 Media Sues DoubleClick

Internet ad serving company 24/7 Media Inc. said today that it has filed a patent suit against competing online ad network DoubleClick Inc., because of DoubleClick's use of technology to target ads to Internet users.

You've Got Coca-Cola!

In its first thrust into interactive marketing, soft-drink maker Coca-Cola has announced a multiyear, comarketing agreement reportedly worth $64 million with America Online Inc. The companies said they plan to use each other's brand and distribution channels to promote their products and services as soon as this summer.

VW Sells Limited Edition Beetles Online

Volkswagen AG began selling special editions of its Beetle exclusively online yesterday, in an aggressive test of the Internet as a direct marketing and sales tool.

DoubleClick's Endurance Test

Few companies have endured more pummeling in recent months than DoubleClick Inc. First, privacy advocates made the online advertising firm the whipping boy for intrusive data-gathering; then Internet stocks lost the affection of investors. If the Net is in trouble, post-market crash thinking goes, online advertising and firms like DoubleClick will suffer most.

Interactive TV Takes Manhattan

Interactive television advertising has finally reached Madison Avenue. It's gotten to Park Avenue, too - Time Warner Cable began to air interactive TV commercials in Manhattan this month. Although many other systems already have begun testing interactive TV ads, the Manhattan launch is seen as a milestone. Nearly 150,000 New Yorkers, including some of the wealthiest viewers in the U.S., have access to the current interactive ads.