Going live on Digital Equipment Corp.'s AltaVista search service this week is Real Name System from centraal corp. (www.centraal.com). The partnership with AltaVista (www.altavista.digital.com) was announced at the @d:Tech conference in Chicago last week and gives Real Name a prominent spot on the search engine.
Real Name allows users to search for registered brand names, phrases and slogans. For instance, company names with ampersands that use "and" in their Web addresses like BarnesandNoble.com, could be found as Barnes & Noble.
So far, centraal reports 2,500 names registered at a rate of $40 per year per name or phrase. The start-up has preregistered 500,000 names, which centraal plans to keep in the system until it has more registered names than non-registered ones, then it hopes to drop the non-paying, said Keith Teare, founder and CEO of centraal. "We're really a plumbing company," Mr. Teare said. "We're providing infrastructure to everybody."
BBDO, AMMIRATI AMONG CLIENTS
New York agencies BBDO Worldwide, Ammirati Puris Lintas and J. Walter Thompson USA have already signed on as subscribers. American Honda Motor Co., Federal Express Corp., Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and Volkswagen of America have all registered names.
A Volkswagen spokesman said the automaker liked the service because it helps Volkswagen distribute accurate information to consumers, especially about its new Beetle model, which has attracted a flood of consumer interest.
Given the number of unofficial Volkswagen sites on the Web, Real Name "makes it easier to funnel people into our official site," he said. "It also makes sure the information they're getting about the company is as accurate as possible."
Mr. Teare said centraal plans to strike deals with other search services and ultimately sign agreements with Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. to be a built-in component of their browsers.
Mark Peabody, research analyst at Aberdeen Group, said centraal's biggest challenge is getting Real Name on more search engines.
Search engines will need revenue-sharing incentives to adopt additional search methods, he said, especially considering that "the more pages a person has to weed through, the less accurate the results, the more advertising revenue."