US group targets UK public through e-mail communities

From this week, UK online advertisers will be wooed with an alternative to the Web – a radical new technology called e-mail.

eGroups is the latest US Internet evangelist to land on these shores, and its take on e-marketing should provide some food for thought. The idea behind its newly-formed UK vehicle, www.egroups.co.uk, is that consumers are best targeted using e-mails rather than the Web.

Junk e-mail – also known as “spam” – has been a fact of e-mail life for a number of years, and has given this form of advertising a bad name.

But eGroups prefers to conc-entrate on so-called opt-in (or permission-based) ads, built around e-mail interest groups and communities.

The company has so far created more than 600,000 such groups (more than 14 million individual e-mail addresses) in 22 countries and 14 languages.

Before its official UK launch, the company claimed to have 400,000 UK residents (.co.uk e-mail addresses) on a swelling database.

As well as e-mail, the eGroups service offers an “intranet-style” Web space for each group.

Features include a polling facility, file-sharing vault, group calendar, database, chat room and message archive.

eGroups claims e-mail advertising is much more discreet than other channels of communication.

Research company eMarketer says e-mail ads accounted for three per cent of the online adspend in 1999, and predicts this will rise to 15 per cent by 2003.

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