INTERACTIVE;MEDIA & MARKETING;ROADKILL: BITS & BYTES; SPRINT FIRST TO FIRE WEB AMBUSH TACTIC;ONLINE SHOPPING, WAL-MART STYLE

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Grey Interactive may have deployed the first "Web ambush" in interactive marketing history when it bought "AT&T," "MCI" and "telecommunications" as keywords for client Sprint Business on Yahoo last month. A search for AT&T or MCI would send the rival company's banner "Sprint"ing to the site. Very clever, we think.

That wasn't exactly the sentiment at AT&T. Modem Media, interactive agency for AT&T, threatened to yank AT&T's business from Yahoo if the Sprint banner wasn't pulled.

"Grey's keywords got lost in a paperwork shuffle," laments Brian Connelley, sales rep with Interactive Media Sales, Yahoo's rep. "We didn't check the words, and the situation got away from us." It didn't stay away too long, though. The banners were supposed to have been pulled last week.

With all the hubbub over the MCI-Microsoft deal last week, we nearly missed news of an online shopping deal between Wal-Mart and Microsoft. But it deserves another look. On one side is a category-killer operation with a visionary founder and strong (some would say oppressive) corporate culture. On the other side .*.*. same thing. Wal-Mart says it hopes to start offering Internet shopping this spring. Microsoft will supply the software. But will we always get the lowest prices, as per Wal-Mart's slogan? With Microsoft involved, somehow we think not.

ROADKILL ONLINE

Go to Ad Age's Web site (http://www.adage.com/IMM/roadkill.html).

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