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Yahoo turns on TV promotions

UPN TV is promoting "The Twilight Zone" and "Haunted" on the Web portal, further evidence that entertainment outlets are turning to Yahoo to reach an online audience, Yahoo says.

Yahoo on Tuesday said the UPN TV network is promoting two new shows on its Web portal.

The promotion is limited to two of the Viacom-owned TV network's pilot shows: "The Twilight Zone" and "Haunted." As part of the deal, both shows will be promoted via advertising banners on Yahoo's home page and in other areas across the network.

Yahoo says the deal is further evidence that entertainment outlets are turning to the Web portal to reach an online audience.

"We're pushing really aggressively into the TV networks to promote their shows," David Mandelbrot, Yahoo's vice president of entertainment and media, said in an interview.

UPN's promotion of "The Twilight Zone" has already generated 45 million impressions, which surpassed the network's other Web advertising spots, according to Rachel Clark, UPN's senior vice president of marketing.

"For UPN, this was a trial balloon," Clark said in an interview. "We wanted to see how effective something like this was, and we've been pretty happy with it."

This is UPN's first major advertising purchase on Yahoo.

Tapping the entertainment industry for advertising dollars has been one of Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's primary objectives. When Semel joined Yahoo last year, the former Warner Bros. studio head declared he would turn the troubled Web portal into the partner of choice for Hollywood's marketing dollars.

To date, relations with entertainment companies have been one of the leading agendas in Semel's tenure. He has brought in several executives from Warner Bros. to run various aspects of the company, including Jim Moloshok, who ran the now-defunct Entertaindom Web site. Moloshok was tapped to help convince studios and broadcast networks to advertise or offer content on Yahoo.

Although entertainment executives have given Yahoo credit for refurbishing its image and attitude in the industry, studios are still hesitant to spend heavily on the medium.

Advertising revenue on Yahoo has continually declined since the Internet bubble burst. The company's pure advertising revenue, which excludes its partnership with paid search company Overture Services, declined last quarter to 19 percent from its previous year, according to Justin Baldauf, a Merrill Lynch analyst.

Nevertheless, Yahoo hopes its inroads into Hollywood will pay off should entertainment companies target the Internet in the same category as newspaper spreads, billboards and TV previews.

The agreement comes after a similar partnership that Yahoo struck with rival network Fox Entertainment last week, in which Fox said it will launch a marketing campaign on Yahoo for several TV shows and upcoming movies.