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Virtually nonexistent a year ago, Internet incentive programs are quickly populating the Internet.

About $144.5 billion was spent on traditional direct marketing in '96, according to the Direct Marketing Association. (In comparison, Jupiter Communications estimates that $300 million was spent on banner ads last year.)


So for marketers that have had to rely on "snail mail," e-mail is a fast, cost-effective way to sell their wares and build customer loyalty. A slew of programs have appeared with various degrees of redemption possibilities and marketing partners. Most of the programs reward customers with points if they agree to receive ads. A user can earn even more points if he or she participates in a survey or buys something from an offer.

But how these programs will pan out is uncertain because they are so new. Intellipost Corp.'s BonusMail launched commercially last August and counts 150,000 consumers in its service. Meanwhile, the MyPoints program from MotivationNet, the ClickRewards program from Netcentives and the e-centives program from Emaginet are all planning official launches by mid-January.

Not all Internet incentive programs use a points system. CyberGold for instance, gives consumers cash or credit on their credit cards for viewing ads, but said push isn't in its paradigm right now.

Online sweepstakes companies Yoyodyne Entertainment and NetStakes leave reimbursement up to marketers and use e-mail to update consumers about promotions.

But as David Carlick's short-lived e-mail shopping service, Power-Agent, learned the hard way, one-to-one Web marketing needs a transfusion of cash and multiple revenue streams to survive until mass consumers find their way online. Here's a

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