CompuServe relaunches with tighter targeting

Britain’s leading online service provider CompuServe relaunches itself this month, segmenting services into 21 distinct “communities”, which UK managing director Martin Turner says should help leverage more advertising.

The redesign will be followed later this year by an unbundling of CompuServe’s content from its access facility, opening up the service to all UK and overseas Internet users.

“We are evolving a very different look to the service, using a new model based on key areas of news,” says Turner. “The service will look different and, by targeting people more specifically into their areas of interest, boost advertising.”

CompuServe has run some pilot advertising on its UK services, and is working with its international Internet ad sales partner Ziff-Davis to develop more ad revenue. But CompuServe UK is generally perceived to have failed to capitalise on its large subscriber base in developing significant volumes of advertising from its service. That, says Turner, will change.

“We have more ‘hits’ than anyone else,” he claims. “We will be looking to offer not just banner ads, but also sponsorship opportunities.”

It remains unclear how Compu-Serve intends to charge for its content-only services. Turner accepts the scheme will have to work hard to justify any premium subscription or access charges levied on Internet users accessing the Net through other providers.

“By adopting this approach, it will mean that the majority of our customers will be coming to us through other Internet service providers,” he says. “The move will make our content available to anyone on the Net, helping us expand our membership, and driving up the number of site hits we attract.”

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