AD FOR THIGH CREAM DRAWS HEAVY INTERNET RESPONSE; COMPUSERVE OFFERS NEWSPAPER AD RATES; A SIGN OF THE TIMES; NEW LINE, HAVAS TEAM FOR VIDEOGAMES; THE NEXT GENERATION OF RATE CARDS?

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More than half a million Internet users "flamed" a Florida health products company after it beamed an ad for a $29.95 thigh-thinning cream to 2,200 newsgroups on the computer network. U.S. Health sent out the message via Miami Internet provider Shadow Information Services, which said the ad reached some 2 million people. More than 60,000 angry messages were received in one day alone. And what did U.S. Health pay for all the exposure? $20, cash.

CompuServe and Ad Express, Milford, Ohio, are developing a new online service that will allow advertisers to access updated information on newspaper ad rates, special editions and circulation figures. Online Newspaper Rates and Data will make its debut in July on CompuServe. Users will be charged $20 per hour in addition to CompuServe's standard rates. The service will also be able to link newspaper publishers and advertisers for online meetings.

The rock star formerly known as Prince is releasing a CD-ROM on June 7, his birthday. Titled "[Prince symbol] Interactive," the $59.95 disc was developed by Graphix Zone, an Irvine, Calif.-based developer, and will be distributed by Compton's NewMedia. The disc features a new song and a performance video that can be manipulated by the user. It can be played on any multimedia PC, Macintosh or audio CD player.

New Line Cinema Corp. and French media conglomerate Havas formed a joint venture to develop and market videogames and other multimedia software worldwide. The companies said they plan to invest up to $30 million in the venture and may use the money to take stakes in small developers of interactive software and videogames.

Setting a rate card for multimedia advertising may be a monumental task if a new CD-ROM from Computer Reseller News is any indication. CRN, a weekly magazine from CMP Publications, last week launched Max, a disc containing press releases, product brochures, software demonstrations and other information from advertisers. Participating advertisers can be charged by the page, insert, second, megabyte or slide. Set-up charges vary depending on the material provided; ad specifications take up three whole pages of the 12-page rate card. Seventy advertisers are featured on the first disc.

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