Anchor sponsors on the new site are CDnow, barnesandnoble.com and Software BuyLine. Tripod also is preparing advertising deals with travel and recruitment sites.
The site (www.tripod.com), which was redesigned in-house, is organized into four major categories: Build, Explore, Interact and Buy/Sell. Below each category are subcategories. For instance, in the Interact area there's a directory of Pods, more than 100 special-interest groups that Tripod has created and maintains. In Buy/Sell, there's a guide to electronic commerce partners' special offers and a directory of Tripod members' online stores. All the major categories are cross-referenced, enabling users to navigate between them.
CONTROLLING `FEATURE CREEP'
"It's a constant challenge to keep `feature creep' off the home page," said Margaret Gould Stewart, VP-media and community development, referring to home pages cluttered with options, a problem Tripod experienced with its old design. "Either people come to do something special and they can't find it. Or they come without a goal and don't know where to go."
The site also considerably boosts Tripod's ad inventory. Banner-size pop-up ads appear on members' home pages.
ZONES, PODS AVAILABLE
Tripod is selling Pod sponsorships for about $300,000 a year and Zone sponsorships starting at $1.5 million on up, depending on the complexity of the deal and the number of guaranteed impressions. Advertisers have the option of buying an entire Zone or parts of it, leaving new features, such as Premier Links, open for other marketers.
"This has allowed us to increase our saleable inventory," said Paul DeBraccio, VP-group ad sales director.
Every month, Tripod will also create a minisite open for sponsorship. It will usually be based on a holiday or seasonal event, with content ranging from a template for building a home page to Web postcards and interactive games.
"We're trying to make it topical and come up with beyond-the-banner programs every month," Ms. Gould Stewart said.