Investor site hunts for first agency

By Published on ., an online financial community, will launch its first advertising campaign this summer, part of an ambitious growth plan that includes international expansion, new products and an initial stock offering.

Executives have begun meeting with agencies to handle the $15 million account, said Lewis Gersh, president-CEO of Worldly Information Network, the site's New York-based parent. While he wouldn't identify the consultant handling the review or which agencies are participating, he expects to choose an agency by the end of April and test some work by late summer.

SOPHISTICATED INVESTORS publishes 20 investing newsletters on topics ranging from daily stock market updates to biotechnology stocks. The newsletters are delivered free to subscribers by e-mail and syndicated in communities including Yahoo!, Go Network and The company draws revenue from online direct marketing (subscribers who opt to receive online advertising from financial services companies), banner ads, licensing and other services.

The newsletters target individual investors who are savvy about their finances or would like to be, Mr. Gersh said. He described the majority of the subscribers as sophisticated investors who are active traders, but not day traders.

"The core of our content is what's happening in the world and how we can make money from it," Mr. Gersh said. has grown significantly since it launched Aug. 31, 1998, according to Mr. Gersh. The site claimed an audience of 925,000 unique users in January, according to market researcher PC Data Online Report, a 94% increase over December 1999.

NEW PRODUCTS is currently testing new products, including, a subscription-only search engine to research institutional ownership of stocks and bonds, and is developing a site to help the administrative needs of investment clubs -- tentatively called -- due in the second quarter.

The company plans to file for an initial public offering of stock in the next 12 months, Mr. Gersh said. It also plans to expand beyond its current U.S base, into Latin America and Europe, and expects to have 1 million members outside the U.S. by yearend.

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