MICROSOFT ROLLS OUT REVAMPED SIDEWALK

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Microsoft Corp. will launch its revamped MSN Sidewalk nationally this fall, but is selling advertising only in the top 25 markets. Advertisers and promotion partners include Albertson's, barnesandnoble.com, Northwest Airlines and a first-time Web advertiser, Rite Aid Corp.

Sidewalk (sidewalk.com), an arts and entertainment guide in nine U.S. cities, is expanding to become a national consumer buying and entertainment guide with links to Yellow Pages, retailers and marketers. Microsoft will promote the relaunch with online ads from Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco, as well as local radio and outdoor and possibly national print from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Imagine Radio relaunches

Internet-based radio network Imagine Radio, is relaunching its site (www.imagineradio.com) with a Web-based radio tuner with which users can design their own radio formats. In July, Imagine Radio merged with radio site Silver Island and decided to adopt its Web-based radio tuner that uses RealPlayer from RealNetworks or Microsoft Corp.'s Media Player. Previously, Imagine Radio promoted a radio tuner that had to be downloaded. "It became a losing strategy to distribute our own software," said Brad Porteus, VP-marketing and business development at Imagine Radio.

The radio network is focusing its ad strategy on ad banners and sponsorships and eventually increasing its audio advertising to three minutes per hour, Mr. Porteus said.

GTE kicks off Web campaign

GTE Wireless this week launches a new online branding campaign targeting professional males, cell phone users, plus sports fans and college football enthusiasts. Real Media, New York, is placing the advertising created by OgilvyOne Interactive, New York. The ads will appear on co-branded NCAA College Football pages on sites for newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com), The Dallas Morning News (www.dallasnews.com) and The Seattle Times (www.seattletimes.com).

In other news

Web broadcaster PointCast announces today 10 of its newspaper affiliates have renewed contracts to be on the PointCast Network. Newspapers signing two-year commitments to supply editorial content include: Knight-Ridder, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Star (Minneapolis) Tribune, and Tampa Tribune. . . . Ad management company ValueClick (valueclick.com) today releases VisiTrack, an Internet ad campaign testing service. The VisiTrack service, which is available free in the ValueClick network of sites, allows advertisers to track in real-time the effectiveness of ad banners. . . . Excite, Redwood City, Calif., named John Polumbo president-chief operating officer. George Bell, formerly president-CEO, will remain CEO. Mr. Polumbo had been president-CEO of Pacific Bell Mobile Services, Pleasanton, Calif.. . . Barnes & Noble said it plans to file with the Securities & Exchange Commission for an initial public offering for its Web book store barnesandnoble.com. . . . Accrue Software today announces the release of Accrue Insight 2.5 eBusiness analysis software. The upgraded software includes personalized Web pages that let companies request custom reports, and push technology for distributing reports via e-mail.

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