Excite's and Intuit's announcement last week of a new financial tools and information channel is part of a growth spurt for financial investment tools and information on the Internet.
That channel, called Excite Business & Investing by Quicken.com, is expected to soon be followed by the launch of a financial service at ABCNEWS.com. Produced by Starwave, the site will have personalization capabilities, so users can build investment profiles and form investment strategies. Starwave officials had not commented about the launch at press time.
For the Excite and Intuit launch, Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, Datek Online, DLJdirect and E-Trade, among others, signed on as advertisers and sponsors for the channel paying a total of $11 million over the next year.
Hearst's HomeArts Network recently launched a women-targeted area called Money Minded on www.homearts.com, its women's lifestyle site. The newer entries join Microsoft Investor, which launched in June 1996, and Quote.com, which launched in 1993 and runs stock quotes, market data and company profiles.
Much of the growth in financial sites lies in making it easy for consumers to trade electronically. Last week, Yahoo announced a deal with AmeriTrade Holding for that company's Ameritrade service to be accessed directly on Yahoo Finance. When a quote screen pops up, users can trade immediately by clicking an Ameritrade button on the site if they have an account with the company.
"The Web is tailor-made for this," said Patrick Keane, an analyst at Jupiter Communications. "A lot of people are being aggressive and proactive in terms of getting the information themselves. The sites are also generating traffic during the day."
Keane also projects that online stock traders such as E-Trade and Charles Schwab will be striking sponsorship deals with content providers. However, it looks as though such companies won't be able to follow quite the same distribution path as electronic commerce retailers such as Amazon.com and CDNow. While those companies have been distributing miniature versions of their sites to Web content providers and allowing them to share in transaction revenue, when it comes to trading securities, that doesn't look possible.
According to the National Association of Securities Dealers, it is a violation of NASD rules for the association's brokers to share commissions with non-members. "You can buy advertising," said Joe Ricketts, AmeriTrade Holding chairman and CEO. "We never talk about sharing commissions."
Though online transactions in insurance and mortgage are part of the Excite Business & Investing channel, Joe Kraus, senior vice president of Excite, said the company is focusing simply on making transactions easy, not directly profitable to Excite. "We're making it as seamless as possible to conduct a transaction," he said. "But the brokers have their own space."