Associated to net Yahoo! users with online guide

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AEP, the electronic publishing arm of Associated Newspapers, has launched its UK Plus online guide to the Internet, aimed at supplanting Yahoo! UK as the busiest UK-based Website.

Paul Zwillemberg, managing director of AEP, says the decision to develop a Web directory, rather than a news-led service, for its flagship Website is based on detailed market research by NOP, which found a major market gap for the new service among UK surfers.

“We found people thought there was too much global content thrown up when searching on the Web, and there was frustration in getting hold of local content. So we have edited the Web for the UK market,” says Zwillemberg. “We have looked at about 30,000 UK sites and thrown out a good proportion of them.”

The UK Plus service will operate in conjunction with global search engine Infoseek, which will direct international traffic seeking UK information to the AEP site.

Press Association, rather than Associated Newspaper titles, will provide the mainline news service for the site.

But Martin Dunn, former editor of Today and now editor of AEP as well as cable station Channel One at Associated, says future AEP online services will exploit Associated editorial resources more explicitly.

“We have a strategy to boost our editorial resources and launch several informational services,” he says.

Advertisers during the 90-day charter period are being charged 5,500 on a guaranteed volume of page impressions delivered. Advertising will then be charged on a cost-per-thousand basis, with a basic rate of 20 per thousand page impressions. Advertisers attempting to target users viewing product-specific category searches may be charged more.

Marketing manager Lee Thompson will handle sales in-house, aided by an additional sales executive. The in-house team is also selling display advertising on the popular Soccernet site, acquired by AEP late last year and Business Day Interactive – run in association with the Evening Standard’s business section.

Microsoft, Oracle, BT and Volks-wagen feature among charter advertisers. “We want to overtake Yahoo! UK as soon as we can,” says Thompson.

Ralph Averbuck, producer of Yahoo! UK and Ireland – which launched to serve the UK Net market specifically last September – says he is confident that his service can preserve its market-leading position.

The Yahoo! UK site is now generating traffic of over 200,000 page views a day, claims Averbuck – well in excess of the levels projected when the service launched.

“Some said we launched a UK-specific product too early, and there was not a mature enough market to give marketing opportunities to UK brands,” he adds. “AEP’s move will reinforce the ad sales opportunities.”

UK Plus will also be competing against EMAP Computing’s Internet Directory service, launched last year. It is aimed at winning a major slice of traffic among UK Net surfers, through its UK-focused directory and search facilities.

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