WEB SITE SEARCH TOOLS SEEK SIGNERS;ZIFF, DISCOVERY HOPE TO LURE SUBSCRIBERS WITH FREE INFO SERVICES

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The sticky business of Web registration may be coming unstuck as ZD Net and Discovery Channel Online start offering free search services to lure more subscribers.

Ziff-Davis Interactive, Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 10 unveils ZD Net Personal View on the ZD Net World Wide Web site (http://www.zdnet.com) as a daily news source, and, eventually, a custom-marketing outlet for advertisers.

Over the past four months, approximately 70,000 users have registered on ZD Net, said Alan Phillips, Internet product manager for ZDI. He expects that number to climb as users sign on to Personal View to get customized daily news items from Ziff resources, PR Newswire and Business Wire.

Advertiser banners will appear on search pages related to a user's interests. Provided as added value for quarterly advertisers at first, ZDI plans to sell sponsorships of search topics and key words.

Competitor CMP Publications recently lowered key word sponsorship prices for its TechWeb TechSearch service (http://techweb.cmp.com) to $1,000 per month from $3,000, said Mitchell York, managing director of CMP Interactive Division, Manhasset, N.Y.

Elsewhere on the Web, Discovery Channel Online (http://www.discovery.com) is gearing up to launch Knapsack, which lets registrants pose up to five information requests at a time. The requests, filled weekly with information from Discovery content and the World Wide Web, can be stored in the registrant's individual Knapsack, a virtual storage space.

Discovery will offer the service free for now but may eventually charge for it.

"This is our first cut on an intelligent agent," said Thomas Hicks, VP-publisher, Discovery Publishing and Discovery Online, Bethesda, Md. "We think there's a service model here that has a chance of generating revenue, as opposed to an information-for-pay model."

While Discovery isn't planning to take ads on Knapsack, Mr. Hicks said the site will announce both a Web rate card and a traffic auditing partner this month.

The cable network appears to be backing away from its plan to start charging users a $24 annual fee to access the site. The fee, which was to have kicked in Oct. 1, is still under evaluation, a spokesman said.

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