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AOL buys PersonaLogic

PersonaLogic's interactive consumer buying guides will allow AOL users to employ tools that assist in online commerce.

    America Online is adding to its e-commerce tool chest.

    America Online today announced its acquisition of PersonaLogic, a maker of decision-guide technology. PersonaLogic's personalized, interactive consumer buying guides will allow AOL users to employ tools that assist in online commerce and customization of their AOL environment. Details of the acquisition were not made available.

    PersonaLogic's decision guides use PersonaLogic technology, which helps consumers make decisions on products and services that fit their needs and preferences by describing their tastes.

    Users can create personalized preference profiles that can be compared, saved, or modified at a later date. The guides cover such topics as automobiles, bicycles, cruises, mutual funds, computers, colleges, cities, camcorders, dogs, and other subjects.

    AOL plans to make PersonaLogic's product available across most of its online areas, including AOL.com, Digital City, Compuserve, and its international services.

    AOL said it will also continue to develop PersonaLogic's technology to make it compatible with search engines and other e-commerce tools, and will seek new e-commerce applications to build "its revenue capabilities."

    The online giant is making a number of business decisions to build its profitability. As earlier reported, the company will enact a 2-to-1 stock split effective November 17, which applies to shareholders of record as of November 3. It is the fifth split since AOL went public in November 1994.

    The company has enjoyed recent business success. Bolstered by record revenue growth and a strong climb in subscriber numbers, AOL last month posted a net profit of $68 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with $19.2 million, or 8 cents a share, a year ago.

    The announcement comes just weeks after the company said AOL will announce new e-commerce deals just in time for the holiday shopping season. West Coast retailer Macy's, Gap's Baby Gap, and Toys 'R' Us will offer their wares online as part of AOL's holiday shopping channel.

    "PersonaLogic's decision-guide technology will be a great addition to our electronic commerce efforts and will make AOL even more convenient and easier to use across a broad range of topics," AOL's chief operating officer Bob Pittman said in a statement.

    Thus far, researchers have projected a rosy picture for portals and e-commerce. Last week, Jupiter Communications predicted that online spending this holiday season will reach $2.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion the previous year.

    The marketing research firm also found, however, that most shopping conducted online is for personal purposes rather than for gifts. The research firm noted that e-commerce companies need to ramp-up their marketing efforts in order to turn so-called self-shoppers into gift-shoppers.