Websense ads put focus on productivity

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Software maker Websense next week launches a new advertising campaign targeting companies concerned about their employees' on-the-job Internet surfing habits.

The company markets tools that block out non-work-related Web destinations such as pornography or stock trading sites. The ad effort, created by Matthews/Mark, San Diego, breaks in Forbes March 6, followed by other business publications. The campaign started small because of some initial ad content concerns from magazines. Spending is still undetermined.

`IT'S ABOUT PRODUCTIVITY'

The ads show bikini-clad women with black boxes covering parts of their bodies so that the models appear to be naked. Quippy question headlines include "Is she on top of your employees' to do list?" and "Are your employees looking over the wrong figures?" The work is targeted at C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies and is tagged, "It's about productivity."

Websense estimates the cost to corporate America to be about $54 billion if every employee spent just 1 hour per week on non-work-related Internet pursuits.

Websense VP-Marketing Andrew Meyer said, "Our intention is to point out to the C-level executive that this is a problem. Executives say they think it may be a problem in their company, but they didn't know there was a solution."

"Websense is not trying to be Big Brother," added Michael Mark, Matthews/Mark president-chief creative officer. "It's not about porn or day trading or eBay or whatever. If you're into that, that's fine. But it is about, like the tagline says, productivity."

A recent study from Nielsen/Net Ratings says that people with Internet access spend an average of 21 hours online at work vs. about 91/2 at home. An earlier Vault.com study found that nine in 10 workers said they visit a non-work-related site at least a few times a week, and eight out of 10 send personal e-mail during work hours.

CUSTOMIZATION

The Websense software can be customized for each individual company. The filter is available in 54 categories such as pornography, auction and gambling sites.

Companies can also tailor the blocks by time limits. For instance, the software may be active on certain sites between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"Shopping for books and online banking aren't issues anymore. It's moved beyond that," Mr. Meyer said. "Now it's auction bidding, stock trading and TV watching . . . With technology now, the computer has become a TV sitting on the desk."

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