Echo, a seven-person shop based in Newport, R.I., has spent the greater part of this year touting the marketability of multimedia discs.
It represents CD-ROM publishers including Quarterdeck Corp. and Sirius Publishing, and has sold space to such advertisers as Time Warner's Pathfinder Web site and Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and TV Host.
The company also signed a deal with Internet access provider Netcom to bundle its software on certain CD-ROMs; a similar arrangement with America Online's Global Network Navigator is pending.
"We've been trying to get out from under the massive shadow the Internet cast on the whole industry this year," said Echo President-CEO Tom Burgess. "The CD-ROM market is huge, and advertisers can do different types of marketing on them as well as target specific audiences."
Echo took in $48,000 in revenues from ad sales in the past four months, Mr. Burgess said, and expects to double that figure this month due to new deals. The company recently hired two salespeople to assist its efforts.
Echo can reach about 7 million people-expected to jump to 10 million by mid-1996-through its deals with CD-ROM publishers like Sirius ("5-Foot 10-Pak" and "Internet 10-Pak"); Sound Source Interactive (publisher of "Adventures of Batman & Robin" and other movie book titles); Quarterdeck; and Essex Interactive.
Echo charges advertisers $3,600 per 100,000 CD-ROMs or $9,000 for 300,000.
The company also uses registration technology that can electronically collect demographic information-for both the publishers and advertisers- about the consumer if he chooses to register online (and receive a free gift).
Echo charges advertisers about 25 cents per lead generated; publishers receive the leads for free in exchange for ad space.
How marketers advertise on the CD-ROMs varies. Entertainment Weekly has created a screen saver promoting its Web site.
Marketers like Netcom and TV Host are bundling their own software on various CD-ROMs so users can download, demo and purchase software on the spot.
Mike Jeffress, general manager of E-TV Host, an electronic customized TV directory, said TV Host enjoys about a 7.5% sales rate from those who obtain the software from Echo's CD-ROM partners.
Despite Echo's success, most think the software format will soon be replaced by high-speed, high-bandwidth online connections.
"Advertising on CD-ROMs could only be an interim solution because the industry is definitely winding down," said Rick Spence, an analyst at Dataquest, San Jose, Calif. "But if you can get a good deal and reach a target audience, why not check it out?"
Echo understands that the CD-ROM market is most likely a fleeting one.
"CD-ROMs are great for accessing large software programs quickly," said Mr. Burgess. "But when more households have souped-up connections to the Internet, CD-ROMs will fade a little bit.....We're already in discussions about advertising with some companies involved in interactive TV."