NBC opens online revenue stream

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NBC is launching a new online feature, GiftSeeker, which could lead to significant transactional revenue for the network.

NBC Interactive is partnering with Lands' End; Hammacher, Schlemmer & Co.; American Greetings Corp.; Crutchfield Corp.; Amazon.com; iMall.com; Service Merchandise Co.; and SportSite.com.

Beginning June 6, GiftSeeker will be promoted in a commercial that will be seen a total of six times during NBC's prime-time lineup leading up to the holiday, including on its powerhouse Thursday night. Those ads will promote gifts for Father's Day.

GiftSeeker is designed to get users to click on the icons of the displaying merchants, taking consumers to the merchants' Web sites for online shopping. The deal does not include a revenue split to NBC or its affiliates on any merchandise bought via GiftSeeker. The retailers paid NBC an unspecified fee to be part of the service.

But Patricia Karpas, VP-NBC interactive advertising and client marketing, said NBC may ask for a cut of the action in any future deals.

Various NBC executives have said recently that it is imperative that the network get involved in transactional revenues as the business model for broadcast networks continues to change.

DRIVING REVENUES HIGHER

"Taking a piece of the action is smart business for NBC," said Laura Berland, exec VP of ORB Digital Direct, an online commerce network. "Transaction revenues will complement [its cost-per-thousand] sales, and NBC has the power to drive those revenues to a much higher level in the future."

Ms. Karpas said GiftSeeker will be used for several holidays and special periods. In addition to a Christmas promotion, GiftSeeker (accessed either at www.NBC.com or via the sites of local NBC affiliates) will be used for a back-to-school promotion in late summer.

Icons for the merchants will be displayed on an online page labeled NBC GiftSeeker Comparison Shopping Guide.

Other content on GiftSeeker that NBC hopes will make the area a destination site includes a guide by Microsoft Corp.'s Sidewalk featuring things to do on Father's Day, a poll to pick viewers' favorite "NBC TV dad" and a contest through which participants' fathers could win a Buick Century.

ON-AIR, ONLINE EXPOSURE

Ms. Karpas said what was unique about GiftSeeker is that for the first time advertisers will get exposure during an on-air commercial as well as online "in a highly integrated campaign."

The 30-second spot, handled in-house, opens with images of an ice cream cone and baseball glove as voice-over reminds viewers how their dads have been there for them. Then the spot urges viewers to visit NBC.com for gift ideas from the participating retailers. Not all the retailers are named in the spot.

"We had a certain rate for the advertisers depending on if they were mentioned in the commercial or not," Ms. Karpas said.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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