CompuServe unveiled several initiatives designed to make the online service more user-friendly. It will lower prices effective Sept. 10, a move that will bring it in line with the other major commercial online services and give it a better footing to compete with the looming Microsoft Network. CompuServe's new pricing structure offers five hours per month at $9.95, with additional hours costing $2.95, the same price America Online and Prodigy charge. The online service also will introduce a new, basic service code-named "Wow" at Fall Comdex. CompuServe said it will spend upwards of $35 million on advertising via new agency Martin/Williams, Minneapolis.
Ketchum Communications, New York, is the latest agency to join the Web, opening Catalyst/Ketchum last week at http://www.ketchum.com. The site features discussion groups on interactive topics; a monthly guest columnist; and a "smart agent" feature allowing users to determine what information they want from the site.
America Online, Vienna, Va., and M/A/R/C Group, Dallas, formed a joint venture, Digital Marketing Services, to provide marketers with online research opportunities. AOL subscribers who purchase certain products may earn credits toward free hours on the online service.
Knight-Ridder shut down its Information Design Laboratory, which was developing flat-panel electronic newspapers.....Joseph Willix, 49, was named director of sales and marketing at Newsweek InterActive, New York, a new post, from sales development director for several Newsweek regional offices..... Prodigy unveiled a new interface that looks more like the World Wide Web and reduces the size of on-screen ads to small buttons.