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Talk City chats deals

Despite growing competition, Talk City, the Internet chat service, is striking new deals to generate more business.

    Despite growing competition, Talk City, the Internet chat service, is striking new deals to generate more business.

    Talk City is announcing two partnerships this week: one with ISP AT&T WorldNet to direct AT&T users to the Talk City site through a link on AT&T's Web site, and one with search engine Infoseek.

    Although he declined to discuss specific traffic projections, Talk City's vice president of marketing Christopher Escher said the AT&T deal helps fulfill several long-term strategic goals.

    "Overall, the goal is to become the preferred chat provider for other sites and services," he said. "Partnerships are very important to us."

    Talk City also has to stay in step with its competition, including vendors such as The Palace, eShare, and ichat.

    Along the same lines, Talk City today announced a partnership with search engine Infoseek, as expected.

    Under the terms of that deal, Talk City "citizens," as the chat community likes to call its users, will have access to the Infoseek search engine on topics related to their online conversations. In addition, Infoseek search results will start directing its users to Talk City topics that fit their search queries.

    The two partnerships illustrate the growing importance online players place on striking up strategic content deals. Because advertising revenues depend on the number of eyeballs driven to a site, more and more companies are using content partnerships to expand their distribution.

    Talk City's tactic of making itself available on a variety of sites seems to be working. The company announced yesterday that traffic on the site increased by 50 percent in September, passing 1.5 million hours of online conversation.

    Escher attributed the traffic surge to its strategic partnerships, specifically one with WebTV, whose users accounted for 30 percent of the increase.

    "Content partnerships are very important," Escher noted, "and chat is content, too."