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(Aug. 20, 2001) -- As e-mail marketing grows in popularity, Real Media, one of the primary players in the ad-serving business, is expected to announce today that it has signed an agreement with e-mail solutions provider Topica to allow it to offer its clients one e-mail solution for content development and distribution.

The move comes amid consolidation in the e-mail industry and growth of the use of e-mail as a marketing tool. According to a June study by the Kelsey Group, small businesses alone will spend $2.2 billion on localized e-mail marketing by 2005. Thus, for ad-serving companies, the need to align with, or merge with an e-mail marketing supplier is crucial.

Real Media, a unit of PubliGroupe, had served e-mail in the past, but it felt a need to have a streamlined capability for its clients, which include, New York Times Digital and Forbes.

"I think in e-mail we were deficient and having Topica as a partner helped us fill that," said Jack Smith, director of product management at Real Media.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal calls for Real Media's sales force to sell Topica's Email Publisher product.

Mr. Smith said Real is considering "every available option" to keep up with competiton. DoubleClick bought e-mail specialists MessageMedia and FloNetwork this year, and smaller players have consolidated as well. Earlier this month, MindArrow Systems acquired Radical Communications. -- Catharine P. Taylor

Copyright August 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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