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February 12, 2008

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer...02/12/2008

Lance Armstrong Knows Barter’s Value

Cycling legend Lance Armstrong just completed a major barter agreement with Richard Rosenblatt, the chairman of Demand Media. Together they are creating a new “for-profit” web site that DM will operate...the focus of the site will be on health programs and cancer research.

The barter component: Lance Armstrong (as well as his non-profit foundation) will receive equity stakes in the media firm. And Demand Media will retain all ad revenue created by the new commercial site.

Two More Newbie Barter Sites

Two more trading sites have hit cyberspace...www.GiveNTake.in and www.BegBarterorbuy.com.

Buy & Hold Pays Off For This Investor

Atlanta’s largest bank is shedding a large portion of its 43.6 million Coke holdings. Sun Trust Banks has a nearly century-old financial tie with the Coca-Cola Co. They took Coke public in 1919. Now they’re selling their shares to reap $1 billion!

Wristwatches Improve Restaurant Service

Waiters at some restaurants are beginning to use devices resembling wristwatches to improve customer service. The devices, part of a wireless system devised by ESP Systems, alert waiters when food is standing by or when a new table is ready, among other things.

Diners also have a device at their table for paging their waiter if they need anything. At the end of the night, managers are provided with statistics about each waiter’s service.

Warren Buffett Feels No Sorrow For U.S. Economy Turmoil

According to the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the woes in the U.S. financial sector are poetic justice for the bankers who designed and sold complex investments that have since gone sour.

The head of Berkshire Hathaway, also known as the “Oracle from Omaha,” says the recent interest rate cuts mean that low-cost funds are readily available. He also thinks that the U.S. dollar will continue to slide until the country can rein in the huge trade deficit. But over time he believes the economy will do very well.

Forty Percent Of Web Users Viewed Newspaper Sites At Year End

According to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), the average monthly unique audience figures for newspaper web sites grew by more than 3.6 million in 2007...a record year for the industry and an increase of more than 6% over 2006 numbers. Two out of five (40%) web users viewed newspaper sites at year’s end.

All back issues of "From the Desk...” can be accessed by clicking here.

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ITEX Adds 23 Restaurants As Expansion In Chicago Market Continues

ITEX Corporation (OTCBB:ITEX) is rapidly expanding in the Chicago market, having registered the prestigious Ala Carte group of 23 restaurants as well as retaining Karen Kelly to lead ITEX’s efforts to add hospitality companies to the trading community.

Ala Carte Entertainment (http://www.aceplaces.com) was founded by Freddie Hoffman more than 30 years ago, and has introduced an eclectic variety of unique restaurants and nightlife hot spots to the Chicago area. Most of its locations offer catering and private party spaces.

Ala Carte Entertainment gives ITEX a boost as it expands its offerings in the Chicago area. In addition, new team member Karen Kelly has been added. A graduate of Levy University in Chicago with majors in hospitality and business, she has 15 years experience in the hospitality industry. Karen is leading the ITEX expansion in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, attracting quality hospitality companies.

“Ala Carte Entertainment,” said John McKendrick, Ala Carte Controller, “is planning to conduct more than $200,000 in annual transactions with ITEX members through its Chicago area restaurants, which include Excalibur, Sam Houston’s Char House, Famous Freddie’s, Fin McCool’s, Lion Head Pub, Chandler’s Chophouse and Moretti’s Ristorante and Pizzeria.”

“We are very pleased to have Ala Carte Entertainment, one of the Chicago area’s premier dining organizations, as our newest member,” asserted Steven White, Chairman and CEO of ITEX. “Its entrepreneurial management team understands the benefits of having small business patrons frequenting their restaurants and utilizing the ITEX dollars received for a variety of local services such as advertising and printing.”

“Karen Kelly is providing additional value for us as she focuses member recruitment on hospitality companies...a high demand request from our trading members. We are really gaining traction in our Chicago office, registering some great businesses and energizing our local trading community,” added White.

For more information see www.itex.com.


Advertisers Barter Gift Certificates For Newspaper Advertising

Two Illinois-based newspapers, The Dispatch (in Moline) and The Rock Island Argus located in the Mississippi River region known as the Quad Cities, launched www.DeliveringQC.com in February 2007. It is a customer retention web site that developed into a major draw for advertisers. The secret of its success? Telling advertisers, “Your money’s no good here.”

The site uses a two-pronged approach that favors barter over cash, yet keeps the newspaper comfortably in the black.

First, an advertiser gives the web site three gift certificates each month that are redeemable for its products or services. The site then offers these vouchers for sale to anyone who visits the site’s “Value Vault,” at half the face value of each certificate or less...taking that sum as its fee.

Each month, the paper sells $2,000 to $7,000 worth of gift certificates, estimates John A. Newby, former circulation director for The Dispatch and now publisher of The Times in Ottawa (IL). “Advertisers love it, we get our money back and draw more readers to the site,” he revealed.

Elsewhere on the site, those same advertisers offer special coupons that can be downloaded and printed only by those who subscribe to The Dispatch or The Rock Island Argus. The advertisers also receive promotion in the print edition and elsewhere on the DQC site.

Newby and the site’s former manager and administrator, Zack Wenthe, spent an hour a day for about two months just brainstorming the details of how the site would work. They started by collecting pre-printed, paper-based gift certificates from merchants, but having to mail them to customers who bought them online quickly proved tedious.

In September, a completely digital system was designed which customers could then download and print. Each month, merchants receive a report that lists the number of page views their part of the site received, as well as the serial numbers of each gift certificate purchased.

The allure, according to Wenthe, is that the site’s approach appeals to internet-wary small business advertisers. “Your major players get it, they know how to track it,” he noted, “but local guys don’t want to assume a lot of risk.” The benefit of this ad program is that it’s performance based. “They’re only paying if we sell their gift certificates.”

DQC is a particularly effective tool for reaching the small-business advertiser, says Newspaper Next's Stephen T. Gray, who has watched the project evolve. “This removes one of the biggest obstacles to advertising—having to take cash out of the business to pay for it.”

And what about those gift certificates that don’t sell quite so well? The newspaper company uses them as new subscriber and EZ Pay premiums, Newby says. Previously, the papers were spending about $10 to $20 per subscriber for premiums. Now the certificates generate about $150,000-$200,000 in revenue and savings on subscriber inducements, added Newby.

“The struggle has been getting the traffic,” Newby admitted. Clearly dabbling in barter is something guaranteed to make a newspaper’s accounts department a little nervous. “But we have to be different. If we keep doing the same thing we’ve always done, we’re dead.”


Americans Embracing Diversity In International Foods

Americans may be the kings and queens of hand-held foods—burgers, sandwiches, pizza—but their tastes will be increasingly fed by more international cuisines, according to new research from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD).

According to the CCD’s most-recent “Culinary Trend Mapping” report (published jointly with Packaged Facts), Americans are likely to move toward seeking out and eating hand-held foods that have more of an ethnic flair, in part as a reflection of a diversifying culture. The trends, which include fare such as Indian dosas, Chinese baos and Latin American empanadas, are starting to emerge in urban areas and university cafeterias, says CCD trendologist Kara Nielsen.

“University food service centers cater to ethnically diverse people who cross-pollinate,” Nielsen tells Marketing Daily. “As these young people get out of college, they’ll be looking for these foods in regular life.”

The more ethnic foods, such as dosas and baos, are still considered an emerging trend that could take some time to develop, perhaps as long as five years, Nielsen says. But she notes that food trends are moving from the ethnic fringe to the mainstream at an ever-increasing pace. “The general American’s knowledge of food has increased exponentially,” she says.

One trend that’s likely to catch on more quickly is smaller versions of familiar fare such as mini-hamburgers or sandwiches. But a coming trend will pair those sandwiches with a more gourmet air, featuring premium beef or lamb, Nielsen suggests. The smaller size also gives diners the option of having more to sample, share and snack on, as well as being kid-friendly.

The report predicts Mexican paletas, which are frozen pops made from fresh fruit or vegetables, to be a growing category. Early adopters, such as foodies, bloggers, and reporters are keen on their freshness and unusual flavors. Nielsen notes that paleta chains and distributors are already branching out beyond their traditional Latin areas...into mainstream grocery stores.

In the nearer term, Latin American-tinged empanadas can be found in mainstream magazines and grocery stores, though Nielsen says she’s a bit surprised the filled pastries are not found more often in quick-service restaurants. (Taco Bell has an empanada product, but it’s more akin to a hot apple pie than a savory sandwich.)

The area that going to see the most growth the quickest will be in the form of breakfast sandwiches. A flurry of activity started in 2003, with Starbucks and Sonic Drive-Ins entering the day-part, and McDonald’s introducing the McGriddle sandwich. Since then, other chains have introduced their own hand-held breakfast sandwiches, and McDonald’s has introduced a premium breakfast burrito offering, Nielsen says.


Microsoft Goes After Business-Minded Consumer

Seeking to corner the financial services sector, Microsoft has forged another distribution and ad sales partnership, this time with The Wall Street Journal.

Advertising is increasingly becoming a centerpiece of Microsoft’s business strategy. In October, its chief executive Steve Ballmer said advertising would make up 25% of the company's total revenue within a few years. The pronouncement came shortly after Microsoft paid $6 billion for advertising technology powerhouse aQuantive. “This deal is a strong indicator that we're gaining significant traction with our advertising platform,” aQuantive founder Brian McAndrews said.

Through aQuantive’s Atlas division, McAndrews and Microsoft plan to soon provide advertisers with logs of all the sites where consumers encounter their ads online so they can more effectively plan their media spend.

Microsoft will now serve as the exclusive third-party provider of contextual and paid search advertising for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network of sites, including The Wall Street Journal Online, Barrons.com, MarketWatch.com, and AllThingsD.com, among others.

The collection sites add an estimated 20 million unique visitors per month to the extended Microsoft network, giving advertisers access to an increasingly deep financial services vertical. In recent weeks and month, Microsoft has reached similar deals with CNBC, MSN Money, and financial information provider Edgar Online.

“We think we’ve pretty much locked up the market for business-minded consumers,” said Jon Tinter, general manager, strategy and business development for Microsoft. Still, Tinter acknowledged that the deal is unlikely to satisfy advertisers. “They’ll want more inventory,” he said. “That’s their biggest demand, today.”

Since launching its adCenter hub last year, Microsoft has signed on roughly 100,000 advertisers, and plans to offer advertising throughout its entire product line. Firmly rooted in its history as a technology company, Microsoft last summer also opened a research center dedicated to online advertising.

Artfest Launches Television Show And Partnership With AMGTV

Artfest International (OTCBB: ARTI) announced the launch of their new television show, “Artfest Presents,” which premiered January 26, 2008. The show will initially be broadcast to approximately 20 million viewers, within 218 TV markets nationally, including the top 10 major independent TV markets.

The 2-hour block of programming introduces the world of art and the opportunity to be a part-time or full-time art dealer with Artfest. The show presents a montage of footage from the company’s historical files, including member testimonials. In addition, viewers can enjoy series featuring Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Jack Ingram, Reckless Kelly along with interviews with artists such as Aubree Anna, live painting segments and art collections.

Edward Vakser, Artfest CEO and Chairman, stated, “The collaboration with AMGTV provides Artfest with an outlet to communicate its story and direct-sales opportunity to art enthusiasts nationally through educational and enriching artist documentaries, interviews, live art showcases, and concert series.”

Terry Elaqua, CEO of AMGTV, foresees a huge response from viewers. “I look forward to having the Artfest Network affiliate on board. Their vision fits in with our lifestyle programming, but also further diversifies our current offerings. I anticipate that this will be a mutually beneficial relationship for both companies.”

For more information visit www.artfestinternational.com.


Hotel General Managers

Work With Audio/Visual Vendor On Barter

Collect cash, as usual, from the guest accounts staying at your facility that require the use of professional AV services. And rather than shouldering your ongoing employee costs, or your current vendor’s cash agreement for AV services, here’s a much better alternative:

Work with a proven national vendor (a sterling 25-year track record) who will provide all of the AV services for your hotel on a 100% TRADE BASIS! (Payment to be in the form of trade dollars.)

Your hotel’s annual AV billings must be a minimum of $200,000, and this offer is available only in the continental United States.

For a confidential introduction contact Bob Meyer via e-mail: bmeyer@barternews.com.

Attention Trade Exchange Owners:

If your member hotel(s) have a minimum of 10,000 sq. feet of meeting space and annual billings of at least $200,000 for AV services this is a great opportunity to earn substantial cash service fees on the hundreds of thousands of trade dollars your hotel member will be paying the vendor. Contact Bob Meyer at the above e-mail.


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The Growth and Use of Secondary Capital (New Money) Creates Unprecedented Wealth In Today’s New Age Of Possibility

There are many forms of secondary capital—which can be defined as any financial instrument that measures and communicates value in a common language. Would you like to see and learn more about the many forms of secondary capital?

 We have 70 free, informative and inspiring, articles for you in our “Secondary Capital Section.” Check it out... www.barternews.com/secondary_capital.htm.

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