CompuServe shifts tactics

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CompuServe plans to introduce new interactive ad packages designed to improve reach across all levels of the online service's content offerings. MULTIPLE LAYERS

While both CompuServe's core service--now dubbed CSi--and rival America Online offered advertisers cost-per-thousand pricing packages last year, CompuServe next year may pitch pre-designed ad inventory packages that span multiple layers of editorial content to assure marketers reach both broad and targeted segments.

It also plans to work with a national rep firm for the first time, and last week was finalizing a deal with a company believed to be Softbank Interactive Marketing.

A CompuServe spokesman said the service's ad strategies were still speculative until the rep firm finalizes its agreement to represent CSi. But Director of Interactive Marketing Mark Sroufe said one theme the packages will offer is a combination of broad and highly targeted ad inventory.

"What we're fashioning right now are packages in increments of 250,000 exposures," he said. "We've broken those packages down by market categories--active men, executive women."

If the proposition gets rep firm and management approval, Com-puServe will offer 200 different ad packages representing 15 broad content themes. Each package will let marketers target by "mindset" and also provide four keywords on any of CSi's online search products.

Priced at a $45 CPM, the packages will be discounted in the first quarter of 1997. Separately, the company is working to form another kind of relationship with marketers.


Stephen Litzow, VP-channel marketing, is working with consumer marketers interested in what he calls "private-label communities"--or intranets--online.

CompuServe can brand, co-brand, or act as silent partner for marketers who want to escort customers online as an extension of their relationship marketing programs. Packard Bell NEC and Gateway 2000 are among marketers working on private-label communities.

Both Messrs. Sroufe and Litzow said CompuServe plans to sell ads into these private-label communities, with testing beginning as soon as the first quarter of `97.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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