PC Planners link users to advertisers' Web sites

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Blackhawk Graphics, a Ridgewood, N.J.-based promotional software company, is rolling out a series of computer desktop organizers that let users link directly to advertisers' Web sites.

PC Planners include a calendar, phone book, reference tools, trivia and other information, and are sponsored by advertisers such as sports stars Joe Namath and Don Mattingly, the Rolling Stones, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Sponsorship costs vary depending on the type of planner and audience targeted, but generally range from $5,000 to $20,000.

In addition to sponsoring a planner, advertisers can buy space in a mall section of the organizer, which links shoppers to an advertiser's Web site. The cost is between $10 to $75 per thousand planners downloaded.

Users can download the PC Planner software from Blackhawk's Web site, or receive it from a disc.

The Joe Namath planner, released earlier this month, links to Mr. Namath's Web site and provides a daily organizer with sports trivia, quotes and other fan information.

During its initial free downloading promotion, the planner is getting as many as 500 downloads a day. Eventually it will be priced at $19.95.

`USER-FRIENDLY' TECHNOLOGY

"Through the various associations we're opening, we're getting expanded marketing and merchandising," said Jim Walsh, Mr. Namath's agent and president of NAMANCO Productions, which handles Mr. Namath's promotions.

"From what we've seen, people are interested in using an electronic planner as part of organizing their lives--particularly people heavily involved in online activities," he added.

Stan Feingold, director of sales for Blackhawk, attributes the sports planners' success to their user-friendly nature. "The sports angle makes it seem like a friendlier product because it gives people a nicer feeling for the technology," Mr. Feingold said.

MORE THAN 50 PLANNERS

It's an idea that advertisers have quickly grown to like. This year, Blackhawk created a dozen planners on various topics; next year's consumer planners will total more than 50, with the same number of corporate planners.

This growing interest has come from advertisers targeting everyone from sports fans interested in sites like Mr. Namath's to those interested in home furnishing information in a home styles planner.

"The biggest plus of the planner is that it's an everyday tool in which the customer is seeing the brand name and seeing the company's Web address as they are keeping track of their personal information," said Blackhawk Graphics President Mike Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan adds that because the planners are used by an audience interested in specific information, the planners are an effective medium for personalized marketing.

Omaha Steaks, a PC Planner "mall" advertiser, has been using several projects, including more traditional advertising and mailings, to publicize the Omaha Steaks Web site.

25% INCREASE IN TRAFFIC

Todd Simon, VP-general manager of consumer direct for Omaha Steaks, attributes part of the last six months' 25% increase in traffic at its site to links provided by efforts like the PC Planner.

"The benefit of the planner is that it allows us to get on PCs we wouldn't have otherwise," Mr. Simon said.

Like the Joe Namath PC Planner, some other general-interest planners are promoted to the public by a free downloading offer.

A Rolling Stones PC Planner, due out this week, will be available on disks or off the Web for $19.95, and during a promotion next summer, for free.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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