With sponsorship becoming an important growth segment in Internet advertising, Thrive Online (www.thriveonline.com) is jumping aggressively on the bandwagon. The health-oriented joint venture between America Online and Time Inc. New Media is set to announce $500,000 in sponsorships and advertising, which will underwrite three new custom-published Thrive Web sites. Alternate versions of the sites will also be available within AOL.
The three sites, which will be unveiled in the next several months, are the G.O. (or "get out") Guide at www.go-guide.com; Cover to Cover at www.covertocover.com; and Health.com at www.health.com. Advertisers paid anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000, to cover commitments ranging from two months to one year.
The G.O. Guide, which will cover outdoor adventure, will be sponsored by Microsoft's Expedia, an online travel agent. Expedia has signed on for one year, and the site is slated for a mid-November launch. The Expedia deal will also involve revenue sharing, but Microsoft, which has just begun to license the property, has not yet worked out those details.
The sponsorship is evidence that Microsoft and America Online think it beneficial to form alliances, despite the competition between Microsoft Network and the AOL online service, which is several times as big as MSN.
Cover to Cover, which launches December 1, will focus on health-related books, offering book reviews and other information. The site will launch with a major undisclosed book retailer as the sponsor.
The third site, Health.com, is planned for an end-of-year debut with numerous advertisers, some of which bought banner advertising and some of which have signed on for sponsorships. "The key is to be flexible to meet the clients' marketing challenges," said Chris Farlow, director of business marketing and sales for Thrive.
The Health.com sponsors will underwrite focused health areas that deal with such conditions as asthma, depression and osteoporosis. Advertisers and sponsors include Match.com, Union Bank of California, Marion Merrell Dow, The Gap, Intuit's InsureMarket, Avon, US Net, Hickory Farms and Chesebrough-Pond's.