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Softbank rep firm cuts 13 marketing posts

Internet ad rep firm Softbank Interactive Marketing has laid off 13 staffers from its marketing and communications group and closed down its Capistrano Beach, Calif., office. Among those let go: Laura Dalton, editor of the recently launched Digitrends, which at one point was to have become an interactive marketing magazine. SIM said it made the cutbacks to refocus on its core business, repping sites. It plans to hire at least seven ad sales staffers in coming months.

Women's Wire links with Yahoo!

Women's Wire (http://www.women.com) last week launched Beatrice's Web Guide, a joint effort with Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com). The site offers Women's Wire content on areas in 20 categories, Yahoo!'s search engine and Web tours (AA, Oct. 28). Launch advertisers include Maytag/Jenn-Air, iVillage, Avon, Budget Rent-A-Car and Rodale Press. Yahoo! will handle ad sales for the site.

Measurement to be next hot button

On the heels of issuing its banner ad guidelines, the Internet Advertising Bureau is starting work on a set of measurement guidelines. The ad industry's Coalition for Advertising Supported Information & Entertainment issued its own recommendations late last year. One point of debate to watch: the need for third-party auditing. CASIE recommends it; and IAB member indicated that group may not agree. Separately, the Newspapaer Association of America last week formally endorsed the CASIE/IAB banner ad guidelines, which recommend eight standard ad units.

Agency.com, Digital City add new staffers

Agency.com named Marian Wright to business development manager from VP-director of interactive marketing at Deutsch; Gerry Louw to chief technology officer from senior director-technology, Ogilvy & Mather Interactive; and Ruth Thomas to group account director from senior account manager, British Airways. Separately, Digital City, the local online service unit of AOL Studios, named Linda Centowski regional sales manager, east coast, from director of ad sales at Freemark Communications, which folded last year. Donna Boesky was named a west coast national sales rep, from president of Publishing Partners. Jeff Tadie will be directory sales manager, from director of sales at Internet Advertising Products at Ameritech.

Rate your agency with AA survey

Advertising Age and Mediamark Research Inc. this week launch a major survey of marketers and their agencies' interactive capabilities. The survey, which has both online and telephone components, represents one of the most comprehensive studies ever of the way marketers use agencies and other resources to complete interactive projects. Results will be published in a March 10 Special Report. Marketing executives who have management responsibility for their agencies can participate in the online portion of the survey by going to http://adage.com and clicking on the survey link or by going directly to the MRI site, http://www. mediamark.com/ad_age.

Other news:

Times Mirror Corp.'s The Sporting News awarded TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, its consumer and trade account for The Sporting News Online Web site (http://www.sportingnews.com), which launched last week. . . .

Microsoft Network has signed an exclusive three-year development deal with Jim Henson Productions to create original interactive programming based on the Muppets. . . . Hasbro unveiled a Star Wars Web site (http://www.starwars.hasbro.com) promoting licensed toys and games timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary re-release of the "Star Wars" film trilogy. Meta4 Digital Design, Jersey City, N.J., created the site.

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