PointCast launches e-commerce site

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While PointCast has long courted online business users, Oct. 29 the broadcast network marked its territory with an expanded electronic commerce Web site aimed at business executives and data backing up its audience measurement claims.

PointCast unveiled EntryPoint 2.0, an expanded version of the site its members pass through to reach the Web. The site, which formerly posted links to merchants, now features integrated content.

For instance, users will be able to chart a company's earnings with the Web service's BigCharts or gather weather information on 3,000 cities with content supplied by AccuWeather and WeatherNews International.

The site also features MarketPlace, an e-commerce site sponsored by Visa USA. Vendors on the site include the Acura division of America Honda Motor Co., barnesandnoble.com, cars.com, Compaq Computer Corp., Mercedes-Benz of North America and Toshiba Corp.

"The business Internet audience is one of the most valuable audiences, but one of the most elusive," said Don Albert, senior VP-advertising sales and e-commerce at PointCast, noting that business executives compose one-third of all Internet users.

A survey released last week from Mediamark Research Inc. shows PointCast's audience is particularly suited for e-commerce. According to MRI, 60% of PointCast users shopped online in the past 12 months for computer hardware; 35% said they bought computer hardware. Another 74.5% of users shopped for travel; 32.4% bought travel services over the Web.

MRI also compared PointCast to print publications. According to MRI, PointCast has a rate base of 1.2 million users with a media household income of $87,500. Meanwhile, Business Week has a rate base of a just more than 1 million subscribers and a media household income of $71,524, and Forbes has a rate base of 765,000 and a household income of $70,392.

"We think we can position ourselves as the fourth business magazine," said Mr. Albert of grouping PointCast with Business Week, Forbes and Fortune. "It's certainly a direction we're moving in. We're also competing for our share of interactive dollars.

Drew Ianni, analyst at Jupiter Communications, said he believes PointCast's focus on the business user is a smart one.

With all of its intranet networks into corporations, PointCast is "reaching the business consumer almost exclusively," Mr. Ianni said. "They're starting to flesh out their advertising strategy and I think it's a good move for them."

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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