INTERACTIVE: LYCOS ACQUISITION OF TRIPOD HEATS UP SEARCH ENGINE WAR

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The search engine wars continued last week with Lycos' $58 million acquisition of Tripod, pitting it more directly against Yahoo! in its quest to win eyeballs and advertisers.

Last month, Yahoo! acquired a $5 million minority stake in Tripod competitor GeoCities in a deal that will give Yahoo! users the ability to build their own home pages revolving around communities of interest.

"This is the story of the Yahoo!s and the Lycos' battling to become the AOLs and the MSNs of the Web, just as surely as AOL and MSN will fight hard to become the [Web] portal of choice for users," said Bill Doyle, senior analyst, media and technologies strategies, at Forrester Research.

LOCKING IN

"Once you've created a home page, you are locking in with that particular provider, whether it's Yahoo! or Lycos," he added.

Under the Lycos deal, which is a straight stock swap, Lycos (www.lycos.com) and Tripod (www.tripod.com) will maintain separate Web sites, although there will be integration of features and services on each, said Bob Davis, Lycos CEO.

For example, Lycos users can now build their own home pages using Tripod's community-based technology, while Tripod will offer Lycos' search capabilities.

And for advertisers, it offers them more direct targeting opportunities, said Mr. Davis.

"You're right down to someone's personal space on the Web," he said.

For example, car manufacturers could target users setting up automobile pages in genres such as sports or luxury models.

However, advertisers say it's still too early to know whether the added target marketing opportunities, through Tripod, will give Lycos an edge.

LEVERAGE EACH OTHER'S STRENGTHS

"Ostensibly, you could target an ad to someone who created a page about sports," said Sarah Kim, media manager, interactive, at Ogilvy One, New York.

"But I could also go to a channel about sports and assume I'd be reaching a sports audience," she added.

"Media buying will depend on how they leverage each other's strengths," said Ms. Kim.

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