Web site college Club marks its first marketing foray today with partnerships with MCI Communications Corp. and Kaplan Educational Centers and an ambitious plan to build college intranets.
College Club offers free services that allow students to listen to their College Club e-mails by calling a toll-free number. Friends and family can also use the number to leave voice messages, which can be picked up via phone or a computer. For a $7.95 monthly fee, the service can also page students when they have e-mails.
"We're rolling out intranets at the local level, which are accessible by both phone and computer," said Michael Pousti, College Club president-CEO. In September he said it hopes to roll out 100 intranets at colleges around the country, a number it aims to increase to 265 by yearend and 2,000 in three years.
The College Club Web site, which is already stocked like a portal with chat, simple home page building tools and other content, is completely ad-supported, with banners going for $30 per thousand impressions and sponsorships going for undisclosed amounts. The site is also selling five-second audio ads that play as students pick up their voice messages.
"In this space, people will pay a lot of money to reach a college audience," said Mark Mooradian, senior analyst at Jupiter Communications. "It's the stage where brand allegiances are being formed."
Kaplan is co-promoting College Club at its 300 store locations and on-campus promotions.
MCI's campusMCI signed a three-year co-marketing agreement with College Club that Mr. Pousti said is valued at "many millions."
College Club is marketing a Members Savings/MCI card, a free student discount card that doubles as a calling card. Mr. Pousti said it's signed up 20,000 local merchants who've agreed to accept the card.
Mark Casey, general manager of MCI's college division campus-MCI, said it chose College Club over many other sites because of its focus on communications.
"I think College Club brings more to the table," Mr. Casey said. "They're not just a student discount card; they're not just a Web site; they fit well with our strategic direction."
Launched last fall, the San Diego-based Web site now has 300,000 unique monthly visitors. It's spent $20 million on technology to support the company's intranet-based services, Mr. Pousti said.
It's promoting the site with in-house-created marketing efforts, including free branded mouse pads and is using bartered banner ads on Lycos, Excite and Yahoo!.
College Club has competition. Student Advantage, Boston, has been building its site into a portal and has a popular discount card. AT&T Corp. sponsors Student Advantage. Last year U S West Media Group took a 35% stake in Student.Net Publishing and Future Pages, an ad network of online college newspaper sites, recently launched a MCI promotion across its sites.
Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.