IQ News: More Than Zero: New Isp Offers Users Free Net Access

Westlake Village, Calif.-based NetZero, the latest company to attempt a completely advertiser-supported ISP, has added Sprint, Jaguar, Launch Media, online game service Uproar and online auctioneer Auction Universe as advertisers on the service.
NetZero launched its service quietly last week. A banner ad campaign breaks Nov. 9 with the tagline, “You mean you’re still paying for it?” NetZero also has cross-promotional partnerships with search service and networking service PeopleLink, both of which, like NetZero, are funded by Pasadena, Calif.-based idealab! Capital Partners.
The ad-supported ISP concept has been tried before, most recently by Cincinnati-based Tritium, which suspended service in mid-October but plans to relaunch with a new marketing campaign in the near future. NetZero vice president of sales and marketing Bob Pack said his company was different. “We have good software, great targeting capability and we’re properly funded. It’s a difficult model,” he admitted. “You have to have all of those things in order to even have a chance.” The company says critical mass is 1 million users; it hopes to reach that goal by year’s end.
“The most common Internet application is e-mail, followed by browsing and chat,” said CEO Ronald Burr. “We’re adding advertising to the whole online session, including to the majority of e-mail and chat users who do not now see ads.”
NetZero uses an Internet connection application called zCast, which opens a movable but unclosable ad window when a user dials up the Internet. It remains on the desktop, operating independently of the browser. Subscribers are encouraged to remain connected even when they are not using Internet applications. The company plans to add a ticker bar along the top of the ad window.