Net's upside

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Half-full or half-empty? Those who dwell on the half-empty side of e-commerce-filled with e-marketers broken by poor business models that could not withstand a poor economy-are missing the boat. The half-full side has a story to tell, too.

Consider online travel sales, where business growth has been so robust that there is a scramble on to grab a piece of the action before the door closes on late entrants. The latest to launch: Orbitz. No venture-capital play, Orbitz has backing from the five biggest U.S. airlines, who are supporting the launch with a significant ad effort from Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Or look at the recruitment business, where TMP Worldwide's has helped establish the Internet as a significant venue for those seeking workers and those seeking work. Also last week, we reported that is out to show how it can be segmented and co-branded. In a $10 million deal with Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN/ABC, will create a dual-named job-search site for people interested in sports-oriented careers.

There are segments of commerce-travel, recruitment, financial services, to name a few-that have a won significant acceptance among consumers. The revenue volume figures speak pretty loudly, even if making a profit today is still a struggle.

Some major marketers plainly like the prospects in these islands of activity on the Internet, and are willing to invest, and promote, these online businesses because they believe they have to be there-or watch others take control of an important commerce channel. E-commerce is on course, with the funding and the plans to secure it for the long haul. For those who wish to grow with it, now is the time to invest in your strategy.

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