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Online publishers face heat over book deal

Online publishers faced criticism last week over a potential conflict of interest between editorial and advertising.

On Sept. 9, BarnesandNoble.com launched an Affiliate Network program, under which its 40-plus members are paid a commission on book sales generated through links from their Web sites. Charter members include Time Inc. New Media, USA Today Online, Knight-Ridder New Media, CNN

Interactive and other online publishers.

Analyst Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications, said, "This kind of deal does start to sully the reputation of a separate church and state in journalism." He predicted that this is just the beginning of online content providers being accused of letting advertising cross the lines of editorial.

The New York Times Electronic Media Co., which is not part of the affiliate program, has a separate, similar deal with BarnesandNoble.com.

"In order for us to generate any revenue at all, we have to be a little more flexible with our advertising," said Martin Nisenholtz, president of The New York Times Electronic Media Co.

"But that in no way means The New York Times (online) newsroom is in any way going to change its ethics of 100 years," Mr. Nisenholtz added.

Emaginet, Netcentives launch services

Two new online promotion services, Emaginet (www.

emaginet.com) and Netcentives (www.netcentives.com), will launch in the coming weeks.

Emaginet allows users to select what types of "e-centive" promotions they would like to receive in categories such as computers, travel and automotive. Sponsors, which have yet to be announced, must buy Emaginet's server for $10,000 and pay a portion of transaction fees. Netcentives declined to disclose details of its network, called ClickRewards, beyond that it plans to emphasize a model like frequent-flier miles.

In other news

The Street.com is expected to unveil a major online ad campaign created by the CKS Group on Sept. 16. The paid financial site (www.thestreet.com) charges $12.95 per month. . . . Household use of online services or the Internet doubled in the past year, growing from 6.5 hours per week in 1996 to 12.8 hours per week this year, according to the 1997 Homefront survey released by market research

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