Multimedia e-mail gains marketers' attention

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With new browsers out from Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp., e-mail will never be the same.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape's Communicator both contain e-mail packages that accept animation, sound and images within the body of a message. Not only does this allow users to download Web pages, but it also turns targeted ad e-mail promotions into something as dynamic as a Web site. The proliferation of free, Web-based e-mail services--WhoWhere? and Hotmail, to name a few--is also spreading the acceptance of multimedia mail, also called HTML mail.


And marketers are definitely taking advantage of this fact.

InfoBeat, an ad-supported e-mail content service, sends out between 75% and 80% of its ads in HTML format, while 60% to 65% of its users can accept the format.Juno Online Services has long used multimedia ads in its ad-supported e-mail service. And e-mail incentive programs are finding that more consumers respond to multimedia mail than to plain text e-mail or traditional mail.


Steve Markowitz, co-founder and CEO at Intellipost Corp.'s BonusMail, said that a recent animated promotion for a 3DO videogame generated a response rate that more than tripled the response rate of 3DO's previous traditional direct-mail campaign.

"We offer text e-mail for the consumers who don't have it," Mr. Markowitz said. There's no price difference between running a plain text or multimedia ad, he said, adding that Intellipost charges $1,500 to create multimedia ads.

Once they learn sound and animation is possible in an e-mail message, "this is when the advertisers get excited," Mr. Markowitz said. "Now they can send the digital equivalent of direct mail and then some."

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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