Created by iWeb Ltd, the iNotes are delivered to users’ screens while they are browsing. iWeb claim they not only generate a click-through rate ten times greater than banners, but are regarded by users as ‘unobtrusive’ and ‘valuable’. Users can choose whether to receive the iNotes, which are in rich-media, and then allow it to continue, pause it for further viewing, browse within the note or close it.
Freeserve, which has 1.5m active subscribers, signed the deal with iWeb following a trial in which iNotes were sent every five minutes and were well received by users, with 88% saying they would recommend them to others. Freeserve says they will not only be used for advertising, but for targeting specific content and service information.
In a market where advertising plays a large part in subsidising the free ISP model, one of the main intentions of the deal is to generate additional revenue. In the US, services such as Alta Vista Free Access rely on targeted advertising being delivered to the desktop of users and is proving popular with 800,000 registered users in less than three months. And services such as NetZero will only allow users to subscribe if they accept a permanent banner which sends messages and advertising. Industry insiders speculate that Freeserve adopting iNotes signals a move into totally free access by the UK’s leading ISP.
Chief operating officer Mark Danby denied that generating revenue was the main reason for the deal and said the pricing model has not been established, although it could be sold as banner advertising is, on a CPM basis.