"Right now, we really don't have any advertising happening online," said Russell Williams, Delphi VP-general manager. "But the belief is it's essential to develop advertising components to the service, because that's what a media company is all about."
Among online services, ad support is quickly becoming the norm. Prodigy was designed from its inception to include ads, and America Online is working with content providers, including Time, to bring ads to its service.
Although Delphi offers limited online shopping, Mr. Williams admitted intensive efforts to attract marketers won't start until Delphi installs its graphical user interface later this year. Delphi hasn't even set up an ad sales team yet.
But the online service has definite ideas about advertising's role.
"Advertising in an online medium has sort of become a pejorative term. But you have to think of it more as an infomercial," Mr. Williams said. "It's something that has to have entertainment and information value."
Delphi will follow a magazine model for advertising, correlating ads to the online material, Mr. Williams said, and using them to give value to subscribers.
"If a car manufacturer wants to advertise through our service, it will have to be something that provides good comparison charts, and good information about mileage and other things that you can add up and say, hey, this is helping me do my research for my purchase."