Hecklers' ad plans are no joke

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Online humor site offers pricey sponsor positions

Hecklers Online, a wacky entertainment site on America Online, is serious about seeking sponsors and will hit the road this week with a pricey rate card.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based online publisher, which launched in June 1995 and became an AOL Greenhouse investment partner last August, counts 250,000 unique visitors each month. Hecklers offers a humor site featuring comedy material written in-house and jokes, pictures and vignettes posted by others.

NEW `GOLDEN DAYS'

Now, it wants marketing partners to contribute daily branded prizes and create content with Hecklers under a custom-marketing model co-founder Mike Ragsdale likened to "the golden days of TV--when you'd watch, for instance, `The Texaco Hour.' "

There are six sponsor slots. The lead slot costs $400,000 a year, delivering 7.6 million impressions at a $50 cost per thousand. Five area sponsors will work with Hecklers on annual deals that begin at $50,000. Its sales staff is targeting various categories, such as beverages and technology/consumer electronics, and offering category exclusivity to all advertisers.

Hecklers' audience is 88% male, with 65% over age 36 and 25% earning household incomes of more than $100,000.

AOL REJIGGERS

The push by Hecklers comes at a telling time for an AOL content company, since AOL is currently rejiggering its own marketing inventory and assigning CPM-based rates within its 14 content channels.

While executives including Mark Minkin, AOL's VP-interactive marketing, claim the adjustments address criticisms by the ad community and that new rates will benefit Greenhouse partners and content providers, Dan Ambrose, an interactive consultant working with the Hecklers, said the "push is coming solely from Hecklers Online and not from the Greenhouse program."

Copyright March 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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