The San Francisco-based company provides free software on its site (www.zing.com) that lets users select content channels, much like push services PointCast and Microsoft Corp.'s Active Desktop.
Using patented technology called Smart-pull, Zing pulls content from selected channels onto a user's hard drive, then displays information -- from movie trailers to pop trivia questions -- on the screen while users wait for Web pages to download. Unlike most push services, which notify users either during Web browsing sessions or via e-mail of relevant content and then try to drive traffic to their partners' content areas, Zing doesn't compete with Web surfing time.
"We don't try to pull you away from the active Web," said Mark Platshon, president-CEO of Zing.
"We make the whole experience a richer, zingier experience by allowing you to pull into your channels and display, while you're surfing Web sites, the things you want," he said.
Zing plans to launch with about 10 content channels in categories ranging from autos to music to art. Pop Interactive, a San Francisco arm of Shafer Advertising, Irvine, Calif., handles media buying and planning for banner ads that Zing will roll on entertainment sites as part of the launch.
So far, it's lined up content partners Universal Studios, Rolling Stone Network, Billboard, Car & Driver, Road & Track, Surfer Magazine and Chronicle Books to provide branded channels. It also will sell advertising on the network, although it has no clients so far.
Because it will offer a voluntary registration in which users provide information such as demographics and lifestyle preferences, Zing expects to charge a premium cost-per-thousand ad-impression rate, ranging from $40 CPM to $100 CPM, depending on the level of targeting.
However, getting consumers to download the software may be a challenge, said Evan Neufeld, online advertising analyst at Jupiter Communications.
"I'm a big fan of interstitials," Mr. Neufeld said, "but consumer response has been spotty."
He said the two most successful companies delivering interstitials are PointCast and Berkeley Systems' "You Don't Know Jack the Netshow" on its beZerk entertainment network, both of which have been successful in creating a brand. "You have to bring more to the table than just technology."
For content partners, which for now have barter deals, Zing offers brand exposure and, eventually, a cut of the revenue.
When Zing lines up advertisers and commerce partners, all partners will share in revenue, although the split hasn't been determined.
In addition, Zing will let content partners sell advertising on their interstitial spots as well as line up their own sponsors.
"We like the idea of a promotional vehicle that also can become a potential revenue stream," said Lisa Crane, VP-marketing and sales for Universal Studios Online, which will use Zing to display movie trailers, trivia questions from its Universal Studios Horror Channel site (www.unistudios.com), sweepstakes and promotional information about summer events at Universal Studios. "It's . . . incremental to our existing sales and marketing efforts."
Zing, which has beta software now on its site, hopes to line up 1 million users by the end of the year. It's targeting home users with slow modems and is in no hurry for high-speed Internet access.
"This system works great at [Internet service provider] speeds and down," said Mr. Platshon. "We have different business models we'll roll out for a faster world, over time."