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A portion of America Online's interactive advertising strategy is coming to light. AOL next month plans to announce that it will distribute ProductView Interactive, a new online service providing advertiser-sponsored information for big-ticket purchases (AA, May 16). AOL in recent weeks has been visiting ad agencies to discuss its advertising plans; it's believed Cambridge, Mass.-based ProductView will operate as a separate service accessed through AOL. "We're supporting and working with lots of people with lots of ideas and we might be working with them," said Ted Leonsis, president of AOL Services Co. Under the ProductView model, advertisers will pay no upfront fees to participate beyond constructing an online brochure costing about $20,000. Consumers will be able to earn credits toward purchases by spending time in the area. Foote, Cone & Belding is the first agency to join forces with ProductView. FCB will consider the service for clients including Mazda Motor of America, Marriott Corp., Jamaica Tourist Board and Citibank. "If it truly works the way they envision it, I think it will be a must-buy for advertisers," said Lynn Bolger, VP-corporate media director.

Time Inc. Multimedia is expected to name a new chief in the coming weeks, following the shift of Curtis Viebranz, 46, to president of Time Warner's HBO International. Mr. Viebranz, who worked on various new-media projects and oversaw ad sales for the Full Service Network, did not attend the unveiling of the interactive TV trial in Orlando last week. Possible successors include Time Inc. Multimedia executives Walter Isaacson and Bruce Judson.

Prodigy will open the doors to the Internet for advertisers next year. Prodigy's redesign, dubbed P2, will be programmed entirely in HTML (hypertext markup language), the language of the Internet, meaning ads on Prodigy could conceivably be linked with ads on the Internet. "We're approaching our advertisers and other advertisers on the Internet and offering them the capability to virtually jump from one domain to the other," a spokesman said.

Discovery Communications, Bethesda, Md., formed Discovery Multimedia and named Thomas A. Porter publisher and general manager of the unit, from VP of Discovery Enterprises Group. ... Capital Cities/ABC and Electronic Arts invested in SportsLab, San Francisco, developer of touring interactive sports entertainment centers.

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