Those portal sites just keep adding and adding to the goodies on offer for consumers. Sunnyvale, California-based Infoseek Corp has relaunched its Home Page Center, a rival to Geocities Inc which it acquired with WebChat Broadcasting System (WBSNet) in April. The 410,000-member web community is now the subject of an oddly passive-aggressive marketing push. The […]
Those portal sites just keep adding and adding to the goodies on offer for consumers. Sunnyvale, California-based Infoseek Corp has relaunched its Home Page Center, a rival to Geocities Inc which it acquired with WebChat Broadcasting System (WBSNet) in April. The 410,000-member web community is now the subject of an oddly passive-aggressive marketing push. The portal boasts that the community can be linked to from its front page – which it can, from an unobtrusive button placed immediately after brightly colored links to Dell and Disney. The company also issued a press release to promote the service, but when contacted, the press liaison informed us that no-one at the company was available to talk about it. Further snooping revealed that the Home Page Center offers web surfers 7MB of disk space, a Teleporter ftp application and a couple of editing tools, including WebArchitect and a smart File Manager, to help them write and maintain their own internet pages, all for free. The idea behind this, as behind all online community sites, is that as soon as Joe and Jane Average-User have provided their highly targeted content at no cost to the host, advertisers will flock to sign up for lucrative sponsorships. Before finding the ad revenue Holy Grail, the argument goes, portal sites must increase their stickiness, meaning their ability to retain surfers at their hosted pages. Since the authors of community sites tend to market their own pages via newsgroups and so forth, Infoseek’s hit rates should climb. Portals must also instill consumer brand loyalty, conventional wisdom continues – hence the array of freebies for web surfers. Clearly, Infoseek executives aren’t cat people or they’d know exactly what kind of loyalty you get in return for gratuitous treats. Indeed, why shouldn’t customers be fickle? Because it’s as much their site as ours, protests Infoseek. So will the company be giving its content providers a cut of ad revenue? Not likely. Meanwhile, in Santa Clara, rival Yahoo! Inc has announced an advertising and sponsorship deal with beleaguered ecommerce player Shopping.com. The latter will sponsor Yahoo’s branded free web-email service, in return for which users in search of a little retail therapy can link to the Shopping.com service or request exciting Shopping.com facts. Those facts probably won’t include the Corona Del Mar, California company’s suspension from trading by the SEC in late March on suspicion of manipulative practices, nor is the outstanding class action suit by shareholders likely to get a look in (CI No 3,410). It is not clear whether the Yahoo deal will slake Shopping.com’s increasingly urgent thirst for capital, since financial terms of the arrangement have not been disclosed.