Brand3, an Internet service provider that enables companies to provide free, branded ISP service, launches today. The Los Angeles company enables clients to offer free Internet access, with their logos and ads appearing in browser windows and e-mail screens.
Brand3 has signed up WebFlyer.com of Colorado Springs, Colo., as its first client and is negotiating partnerships with several major retailers, a leading financial services firm and several media and entertainment-oriented companies.
With most free ISPs, users are served ads through their browsers. This is not the case with Brand3. Its software, called Gluon, places the partner company's logo in the upper right-hand section of the browser screen, with a drop-down menu the user can retract.
"What distinguishes Brand3 from other free ISPs is that there are no intrusive ads in the customer's face," said Ryan Gilbert, Brand3 executive vice president of business development. "We also make it possible for companies to provide relevant content."
The content is accessible through the drop-down menu attached to the company logo and can include news, promotions, sponsorships, weather, updates on the company's doings and the like.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Brand3 is the fact that pop-up messages appear on users' screens even when they've logged off the Net, because ads are cached on the hard drive, Gilbert said.
These pop-up ads were a key selling point for WebFlyer.com. "Owning the desktop is key," said Randy Petersen, CEO of the frequent-flyer-oriented Web site. "We want to own the customer on and offline and Brand3's pop-up ads make it possible."
Andrew Sherman, executive vice president of client development, said Brand3's revenue model also includes banner ads.