AOL last week rolled out its Internet-only Global Network Navigator service (http://gnn.com) at the Internet World trade show in Boston.
The service features original content (much of it grown in AOL's Greenhouse program) as well as expert advice on topics such as personal finance, sports, education and travel. GNN costs $14.95 per month for 20 hours, plus $1.95 for each additional hour.
GNN is designed for the "online graduate," said AOL President Ted Leonsis. While it will be accessible through AOL, its content will be separate from AOL's.
CompuServe, meanwhile, is gearing up to launch the code-named Project Wow, its entry-level service, early next year. The goal is to reach consumers new to computers and the online world.
Both companies are convinced they can segment the market without losing a broad customer base.
"You can segment the market a million different ways," said Paulette White, CompuServe's VP-marketing communications.
"The business has matured to the point where markets are segmenting and [we can] support another brand," said Lisa Gansky, GNN's VP. "Before GNN, our research showed you needed a high threshold of pain and a good sense of humor to take on the 'net as a consumer."
Third-party content providers on GNN include Reuters NewMedia, the Sports Network, Yahoo, Match.com (an online dating service), iVillage and NetNoir Online.
The service has 50 charter advertisers, including American Airlines, c/net, AT&T, DealerNet, Joe Boxer Corp., MGM/United Artists and Sony Magic Link.
Ad packages include traffic links-billboards that link to a marketer's Web site-at $25 per thousand impressions. Advertorials called "sidesteps" cost $15,000 to $30,000 per quarter. Other, larger, sponsorships cost between $15,000 and $70,000 per quarter.
Wow, meanwhile, will be previewed at fall Comdex later this month. The service will have a simple interface that users can customize to fit their areas of interest.
While the boundary between online and World Wide Web services is blurring, AOL's Mr. Leonsis discouraged categorizing commercial online services and Web access services as separate vehicles.
"What AOL is saying is that we will have a network, like basic cable," he said. "AOL will be like MTV. GNN will be like VH1."