hypes reviews with $10 mil campaign

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Online discussion group site wants to be the Zagat's guide of Web reviews. Today it presents Deja Reviews with an ad campaign that hopes to project a new consumer-friendly image.

Formerly Deja News, the site changed its name to better lure new users who might associate "news" with publishing sites, rather than the newsgroups, around which Deja News was founded, said Deborah Newman, VP-marketing at

Deja Reviews is a way for consumers to rank products, politicians, colleges or any number of things. For instance, users can rank cars on performance, looks, reliability, cost/benefit and an overall rating. Whereas politicians are ranked on things such as charisma, campaign skills, integrity and positions on issues.


"People want to hear what other people have to say about various topics," Ms. Newman said. With the new feature "we're creating a very consumer-friendly area for advertisers" as well as a place to help consumers make real-life decisions. Initial advertisers on the redesigned site include eBay, Datek and PC Flowers & Gifts.

To promote the service, as well as's redesign, the site is launching an online and offline ad campaign with a combined budget of more than $3.5 million for the first two months. Ms. Newman says by yearend it expects to spend a total of more than $10 million. Media includes national radio, national print and online ads. Outdoor ads are expected this summer.

DiNoto/Lee, New York, created the traditional ads, which will be reflected in online advertising by Organic Media, New York.


The tagline, "Share what you know. Learn what you don't," is reflected in wry ads that show fictitious consumers reporting from field tests on various products. In one ad, two old men with hearing aids are rating a cell phone's sound quality.

Radio includes buys on National Public Radio, as well as local spots in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and other key markets. Print ads are running in newspapers such as The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Magazine ads will run in Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, Time and other publications.

The site also will allow users to rank products remotely through banner ads placed on strategic sites around the Web.

At launch, said it'll have more than 400 categories of rankings with 10,000 ratable items, ranging from computers to car equipment and stereos. The ratings feature grew organically out of product discussions already taking place in Usenet groups, Ms. Newman said. Users can also easily switch between ratings of a particular product to discussions and online communities around that product.


Another new feature on the site is Deja Shopper, a shopping agent it developed with search engine partner Inktomi. Once a user has identified a product, it can search the Web for that item's best price. and Inktomi receive an undisclosed share of revenues derived from purchases. While the majority of the site's revenue still comes from ads and sponsorships, Christopher Thomas, VP-sales, said it's moving toward selling more ad packages that combine cost per thousand rates with a share of revenue from commerce.

For instance, it can now sell three ad slots on each category review page, with a $25 to $45 CPM. He said he's pushing advertisers to create functional ads with features like pull-down menus that allow users to search for particular products within an ad and then click directly to the advertiser's site to make a purchase.


Still, faces an uphill battle, according to Patrick Keane, senior analyst at Jupiter Communications.

Deja Reviews "is an interesting next step," he said, and a necessary one if "it hopes to be a mainstream brand."

"They're going to have to spend significant marketing dollars, especially if you want to play in Yahoo-land," Mr. Keane added.

But by doing this, he cautioned, it risks alienating its core audience to date, early adopter males.

Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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