HotWired to launch chat site

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The HotWired Network launches a new channel called Talk.com on Wednesday as a venue for its 450,000 registrants to chat in real time..

The free, Java-based service lets registrants "squelch" voices they don't want to read on-screen, open their own chat rooms quickly and easily, and learn the names and e-mail addresses of other registrants who have signed up..

Unlike Electric Minds, brainchild of former Wired editor Howard Rheingold and partners, Talk.com won't let marketers participate in chats as a form of sponsorship. But it will use Java-enabled technology to let advertisers rotate banners across the tops of pages at 30-second intervals for prices ranging from an $18 to $20 CPM.

"We looked at what other chat services and interfaces had done ... and it looked like there was a missed opportunity, with one banner just sitting there the whole time," said Hunter Madsen, VP-commercial strategy for HotWired, of the rotating banners. "In our experience, there's a certain length of time that's appropriate" and the team found that time to be 30 seconds. Advertisers can run 30-second "spots" back to back, though.

Softbank, Isuzu, and Digital Equipment Corp. are among the service's first sponsors. HotWired plans to spend $1 million on an online promotional campaign for Talk.com, but hasn't decided if it will use its agency Mad Dogs and Englishmen, San Francisco, or create an in-house campaign, according to Mr. Madsen.

Copyright October 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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