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Netscape in personalization

The company will unveil a new version of its e-commerce software for publishers, adding one-to-one marketing and ad-serving features.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) will unveil a new version of its e-commerce software for publishers tomorrow, adding one-to-one marketing and ad-serving features and heating up the competition among technology vendors in the "personalization" space.

PublishingXpert 2.2 could pressure companies such as BroadVision in personalization, as well as ad server vendors NetGravity and Accipiter. The latter was just acquired by CMG Information Services.

Competition in personalization is escalating. Yesterday, BroadVision announced its new One-To-One Knowledge application, roughly similar Netscape PublishingXpert. Last week, Microsoft bought Firefly, another personalization tools vendor. Net Perceptions competes with tools in the same market.

Although Netscape's software tools are shipping this week with PublishingXpert, the company intends to add personalization and ad-serving capabilities to all of its e-commerce offerings in the next six to nine months, vice president Daphne Carmeli said.

"The focus of PublishingXpert is to help corporate content providers get up and running with one-to-one marketing and advertising," she added.

Netscape director Ammiel Kamon said BroadVision has competed in some accounts against Netscape's e-commerce software.

"We have the compete solution, not just one-to-one marketing," he noted. "In all the solutions we have, there always will be point players with point solutions. We think the integrated solution will work at the end of the game."

But Marty Connell, product manager for BroadVision's new One-to-One Knowledge software, countered that his application does the same things as Netscape's upgraded version.

"The ability to do one-to-one marketing is key to establish online. We talk about relationship management, and part of that is delivering personalized, relevant content to these people," he said. "Most companies are not in the business of doing knowledge management but want to sell product or promote customer loyalty."

Neeiv Bery, another BroadVision manager, called the moves of Microsoft and Netscape in the personalization space as validating a business BroadVision has been in for four-plus years. "It's going to spread the message and create demand," he said.

The new Netscape ad-serving features may come as a surprise to ad-server software leader NetGravity, which counts Netscape's Web site as one of its top customers. Netscape's Carmeli said the company's site will move onto its e-commerce software, but PublishingXpert also can be linked to ad servers from other vendors.

PublishingXpert 2.2 is available now on the Sun's Solaris and Silicon Graphics' Irix operating systems. Pricing begins at $80,000 for a two-processor systems. Adding the optional ad server costs $25,000 for the two-processor system.

BroadVision One-To-One Knowledge also starts at $80,000 and is available on Solaris now, Windows NT in June, and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX in August.