CompuServe in ad rethink as MSN sets up UK salesforce

CompuServe, Britain’s biggest Internet access provider, is about to scrap its ad-free zone policy in the UK.

CompuServe, which already offers advertising deals to reach its estimated 5 million subscribers in the US, has so far held back from exploiting its market-leading UK position to offer its own ad spots.

The company confirms it is looking at launching a UK ad sales service. A spokesman says: “At this stage it is not possible to say how it will be structured. We are studying our US sales model, but we may not follow it.” CompuServe claims to have 400,000 UK subscribers.

Meanwhile, rival Miscrosoft Network (MSN) is also on the brink of launching a UK sales team to deve- lop online ad revenue from London.

The service, which now claims 100,000 UK users, is committed to a heavyweight ad campaign and to developing local content in the UK.

Taylor Collyer, MSN’s UK marketing director, says the service has been piloting UK-specific ad campaigns for international brands since the end of December. “We are in the process of hiring an ad sales manager, and in the next two to three months we will have an ad salesforce,” he says.

Katherine Randolph, manager of international advertising for MSN, confirms the Microsoft-owned online service provider will be increasing its sales efforts in several non-US markets to exploit on anticipated growth in traffic on its local sites and services.

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