Print publishers, catalog companies and other direct mail-driven media have long considered subscriber lists a legitimate revenue source.
GOING BEYOND AD PROFITS
But Web publishers, lacking a mass audience and fearing accusations of flooding e-mail boxes with marketing messages, have been loath to sell information about their registered users. Now, faced with the need to develop revenue streams beyond advertising, Web publishers are taking that step.
"We're very protective about our people's privacy," said Paul DeBraccio, VP-advertising for GeoCities, which hosts more than 500,000 personal home pages on its servers. "If they say they want information about software marketing only, they're not going to get notes from J. Crew."
GEOCITIES TO SELL LISTS
GeoCities (http://www. geocities.com) will soon finalize a deal to let CMG Information Services handle its list sales. CMG President David Wetherell said his company is actively seeking new Web publishing clients and that he expects to sell combinations of names, e-mail addresses and traditional addresses from the GeoCities database for 10 cents to 15 cents apiece.
Mr. DeBraccio said 71% of GeoCities site owners-or about 350,000 users-supported GeoCities' request to provide their names to companies that want to send e-mail marketing material.
"Columbia House first asked us about it," Mr. DeBraccio said. He added that CMP Media's Net Guide also made list inquiries.
$1.5 MIL IN*REVENUE
GeoCities expects to generate between $500,000 and $1.5 million in list sale revenue during the remaining months of 1997, Mr. DeBraccio said. GeoCities generated $913,000 in ad revenue last year, according to Jupiter Communications' AdSpend.
NetCreations, a company founded in 1995 by journalist-turned-entrepreneur Rosalind Resnick, expects to generate a significant portion of its $2 million in projected 1997 revenues from online list management programs.
Ms. Resnick's company has sold or rented lists to companies including Ziff-Davis'*ZDNet and iChat. Her company is also beginning to manage lists for site publishers such as Scholastic's Home Office Computing.
For Home Office Computing, NetCreations will sell names of site users who ask for information on topics relating to home businesses. The site gives users the chance to sign up for topics via e-mail.
Ms. Resnick's company sells names at 10 cents to 20 cents apiece and works with marketers who make a minimum $200 buy.
Hearst HomeArts (http://www.homearts.com) is using more conservative tactics with list sales from its Web site. Hearst signed a contract with direct marketing company 21st Century Marketing to manage sales of HomeArts customer information. Hearst-owned Consumer Data Services will maintain the list database.
Hearst New Media Director of Marketing Brian Sroub said his company won't sell marketers the e-mail addresses of HomeArts users at first; instead, it will stick to street addresses and other user data, much like a print publisher would.