No bubbles bursting here

By Published on .

Beth haggerty is going places and getting noticed. As president-CEO of InfoRocket, Ms. Haggerty is best known for the "Bubble People," a promotional effort she created with TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, that sent hundreds of citizens canvassing the country in the name of InfoRocket.

Bubble people? If you've seen the folks at Grand Central Station or Yankee Stadium wearing bright lime green T-shirts and carrying thought bubbles with questions such as "How many people come through here each day?" and "Who had the leading batting average in 1950?" you've seen the evidence of InfoRocket.com's successful ongoing brand awareness campaign that began in July. The campaign, also moving through cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, will run until December.

Well-known in the Web community for her work at Infoseek and Go.com, Ms. Haggerty now is tied to a hot 2000 trend: the information marketplace.

Launched in December as a beta site, InfoRocket is a question-and-answer marketplace, powered by an auction model in which people pose questions and decide which bid to accept from other users who can provide the answer.

NO. 1 IN CATEGORY

The only information marketplace site to be listed in Media Metrix's top 500 Internet sites for August, it's no surprise that InfoRocket is No. 1 in its market with 1.2 million unique visitors. Researcher Datamonitor predicts that by 2004, the market in which people exchange information will generate $6 billion of direct information exchange annually.

Despite its lead, InfoRocket faces steep competition. Competitors

include IdeaExchange.com; Keen.com, in which users respond to e-mail inquiries via phone calls; and Guru.com.

"It was so brand new, this notion of the question-and-answer marketplace exchange," says Ms. Haggerty. "But the first six months showed that we had a very fast impact, and we worked hard to understand what our members were telling us about what's working and what's not."

It was the idea of getting information from a real person, Ms. Haggerty says, that really grabbed consumers. Consumers also like being able to turn knowledge into money, she adds.

"Customers don't pay for an answer unless they're satisfied, and they provide feedback and a rating on the response they receive."

MORE GUERRILLA MARKETING

For more accountability and legitimacy, InfoRocket will introduce third-party verification of the "answer rockets" -- the people who sign up to provide answers for queries posted to the site -- and their profile information.

Advertising will be limited to online and guerrilla campaigns for the time being, Ms. Haggerty said.

"We probably won't be looking at TV until late next year because we are building the brand from product out."

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