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AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web

To:     ad-market
Subject:     AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web
Date:     Mon, 18 May 1998 12:49:08 -0400


Best of luck to your client in making a go of online subscriptions. It   
hasn't worked for the online newspaper crowd, witness the recent decision   
by Knight Ridder's Mercury Center to drop it's paid tier. Other than the   
Wall Street Journal, and a subscriber-only tier for Gator Sports   
(, a service of the Gainesville Sun), I   
believe that was the last hold-out among online newspapers. (I should   
note that the Christian Science Monitor charges $15/quarter for a daily   
email of the paper, but provides free access to the newspaper online, and   
even a "freemail" version of this service that includes just headlines   
and news briefs.)

Gainesville is an interesting case, and perhaps a model for the future.   
Netfolks won't likely pay for material they can get in the regular daily   
newspaper, but they may pay for more "must have" information of the   
calibur of WSJ's or of a very special interest like home team sports. The   
only other successful model of which I'm aware is Playboy, and there are   
solid PR reasons for putting this behind a paid barrier on the Net.

I've suggested to publishers that they explore more business to business   
type applications of their information. Many of our papers are making   
good money with archives. Look for better marketing of this utility via   
the NAA Web site in the future ( There are   
also services which are very costly for the newspaper to provide their   
readers, such as Houston Chronicle's fine RealAudio shuttle coverage,   
which may someday require subscription services.

Registration is another matter, and knowing who your readers are makes   
for a more valuable -- and marketable -- audience. The New York Times   
showed us that clearly, and the Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune are   
following suit. Take care if you go so far as to direct email to your   
list that your readers know what hit them. The NYT has a fine privacy   
policy that bears reading, as does WSJ. Whatever you intend doing with   
your list or your customer information, informed consent is the bottom   
line. Database marketing via contest registration -- with all the   
requisite notice -- is one way to skin that cat.

Transactional capability, and with it a split of the take, is slow to   
come, but a strong possibility for tomorrow. (Vendors, take note. Both   
the tools and the business models for current enablers are, er, less than   
desireable, shall we say?) See the Hartford Courant's Auction Universe   
application ( for a glimpse of the future of   
online classifieds.

I'd be interested in knowing how it goes,
Melinda Gipson
Dir., New Media Business Dev.
Newspaper Assn. of America


> -----Original Message-----
> From:   
> Sent:   Tuesday, May 12, 1998 9:06 PM
> To:
> Subject:        AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web

> AM-

> NetResponse is an internet consulting and development agency.  One of
> our clients is in the midst of planning an aggressive customer
> acquisition campaign.  The client is a web based publication, which
> recently migrated to a subscription model.

> Thus far, banner ads have not been a cost effective channel.  I was
> wondering what experiences, thoughts, or recommendations people had in
> regards to alternative customer acquisition vehicles.

> We are looking at list rental for direct email, text ads on email   
lists, and sponsorships, as well as testing off line advertising mechanisms
> (direct mail, print, and local NPR).

> Thank you-
> Bill Robins

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