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Excite, Preview Travel beef up deal

Excite and Preview Travel are expanding their marketing partnership on the Web for online travel.

Excite (XCIT) and Preview Travel announced today that they are expanding their marketing partnership on the Web for online travel.

It is the latest example of search engines forging marketing deals to boost revenues and brand visibility on the Web. Excite has been on an expansion binge lately, offering products such as Internet messaging, free email, and e-commerce deals. Excite was trading down 3/8 at 24-7/8 in midday trading today.

Preview Travel will guarantee Excite more than $15 million during the next five years for exclusivity of its travel service as well as promotion on Excite. The companies will share advertising and transaction revenue generated by the service. Advertisers will include AT&T, MasterCard, Continental Airlines, Embassy Suites, Virgin Atlantic, and Volvo.

"This deal continues to round out Excite's offerings as the Web's first free online service with a focus on ease of use and convenient transaction capabilities," said Excite chief executive George Bell in a statement.

In June, Excite and Preview Travel struck a deal that allowed users to book flights online using Preview's system through the Excite network.

Travel-related content, transactions, and information is one of the fastest-growing categories on the Net. Competition is stiff, however, from the likes of Microsoft, Travelocity, and most major airlines.