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Net minnows Carlton and WH Smith huddle close

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WH Smith and Carlton Online have climbed into bed, with a cross-promotion deal which will see them share ecommerce revenues. Carlton, the UK's second biggest commercial TV station, will dish out £15 million worth of advertising for free to WH Smith, on TV, online and on the cinema screen, to promote the joint venture. On its Web sites, Carlton will promote WH Smith's e-commerce business, selling books, CDs, videos and DVDs on its Web sites. And it will handle all online advertising sales for both companies. WH Smith will in turn hand over a share of e-commerce revenues generated from the site. And it will promote Carlton's online business in its 700-strong retail chain. The book chain, Britain's biggest, will also take content from Carlton for its own Web site. WH Smith already has an anchor tenancy with Freeserve, which in the Internet scheme of things, looks a hell of a lot more important than Carlton. According to The Independent, Carlton's Web sites receive six million page impressions a month (The Register currently does nine million page impressions a month - and we ain't backed by a big TV station). The company also has some leverage through a stake in OnDigital, the digital TV channel, which now has 550,000 subscribers. There could be some e-commerce uplift here. The company's determined consumer focus - with sites such as Jamba.co.uk, popcorn.co.uk. simplyfood.co.uk and Carlton.com - may pull in big FMCG advertisers, even though its online properties appear to lack the "mass" part of the mass market proposition. In British Net terms, Carlton is very much second division - offline promotional punch or no promotional punch. WH Smith's misfortune is to occupy the same Net retailing space as Amazon. Here are two Internet minnows huddling close. ® Tune in and Turn on to Cash Register, for more Tales of the Bubble Economy.

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