Softbank gets the boot as CompuServe forms in-house sales force

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CompuServe announced Sept. 17 that it was ending its relationship with Softbank Interactive Marketing for ad sales, and forming an in-house ad and online commerce sales team.

``Softbank made a lot of sense for the nine months we worked with them,'' said CompuServe National Sales Manager Chris Williams. But he added, ``This is something we wanted to do all along.''

What surely moved the decision along though was the fact that ``Softbank has made a decision to focus on Web site-only sales,'' Mr. Williams said. In addition, CompuServe, which only had a sales support staff since it hired Softbank in January, wanted to work closer with its forum managers in developing commerce and sponsorship opportunities.

For instance, Mr. Williams said, it's in the process of moving away from the electronic mall model and trying to integrate commerce in its forums. Mr. Williams said the proposed AOL deal, in which AOL bought out the CSi subscriber base, had no effect on this decision.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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