iVisit introduces option for ads in video conferences

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With its new video conferencing software aimed squarely at the consumer market, iVisit is pitching a plan to advertisers to run video commercials on users' computer screens.

iVisit software allows for real-time, multiparty, video conferencing over the Internet. All users need, in addition to the iVisit software, is a QuickTime compatible video camera and a direct connection to the Internet.

The company has yet to sign any advertisers. However, Paul Schmidman, senior VP-general manager of the iVisit project for BoxTop, Los Angeles, which markets iVisit, said the company is negotiating with several consumer advertisers and expects to make an announcement regarding agreements sometime in December.

BLOCKING AD RECEPTION

One possible concern for advertisers, which Mr. Schmidman sought to play down, is that users can block reception of video ads. iVisit contains an auto-accept feature that conference users activate to allow anyone, or any message, onto their screens.

Not activating the auto-accept feature results in a kind of call screening, allowing users to pick who or what information can join a video conference.

"There is no guarantee that people using iVisit will see the ad," Mr. Schmidman admitted.

But he insisted the issue was not a concern to potential advertisers. "That hasn't come up. Right now people are intrigued with the idea of talking to audiences in real time."

Advertisers will also be offered the option of running a banner during the call with a link to their site. Ad rates for both video and banner ads have not been set.

BoxTop introduced iVisit at the Internet World conference in Chicago in July.

The original version, which is free in black and white format, began shipping Oct. 15 and can be downloaded from iVisit's Web site. A color upgrade is expected to be available sometime this month for a one-time cost of $49.95.

SUPPORTS WINDOWS AND MAC

In addition, iVisit, which supports both Windows and Macintosh platforms, will be bundled with other products including 3Com modems and Power Computing PCs.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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