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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

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