ALTAVISTA SEARCH-RESULT SALES SPARK CONTROVERSY

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In a controversial move, AltaVista said last week it will begin selling to advertisers the top two items resulting from user searches. AltaVista, owned by Compaq Computer Corp., calls the listings AV Relevant Paid Placement and said they would be clearly marked as advertising.

Most search engines have resisted allowing advertisers to pay to get listed in search results, preferring to sell buttons, banners and sponsorships around the results, many of which can easily be mistaken for editorial content.

GoTo.com, however, sells its results to advertisers, ranking them in order of how much a marketer wants to pay for an ad.

Bronner changes name, elevates Biro

Kathy Biro last week was named vice chairman of Bronnercom, a new umbrella company over direct-marketing agency BSH-formerly Bronner Slosberg Humphrey-and Strategic Interactive Group, both Boston, and customer-relationship management company Sansome, San Francisco. Ms. Biro will remain CEO of SIG, Bronner's interactive arm.

In other news

Lycos signed a long-term deal with Netscape Communications Corp. to support and launch its Open Directory Project, a directory of sites categorized by volunteers. Lycos will use the directory for Lycos.com and HotBot.com search services. . . . America Online last week said its membership was up 42% this

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