IQ News: PointCast Looks Toward Online Transactions

PointCast is entering the online transaction and commerce market. The push service, which broadcasts content to personal computers, will announce today a new online trading and business services program called Preferred Online Broker.
The program will be part of a new Companies channel on the PointCast Business Network. Online brokers including Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, DLJdirect, Fidelity Investments, E-Trade and Suretrade will provide stock and mutual funds trading services on the network.
Anna Zornosa, PointCast vice president, sales and affiliate development, pointed out that 90 percent of the service’s users own stock and most trade more than nine times a year. Therefore, PointCast is setting up a service to help companies sign up new accounts. Online trading is a competitive area with many of the same partners offering services on, Microsoft Investor and Excite Business & Investing by
Another transactional channel, EntryPoint, which has its own button that stays on the desktop, launched last week and offers more general online transactions on PointCast Business Network and on the PointCast College Network. EntryPoint includes an aggregation of online commerce companies, including Barnesand, CareerPath, Travelocity, OnSale and Zip2.
PointCast will announce in the coming weeks other online commerce companies for its transaction services, including more travel services, online music sales and a new sponsorship from a search engine partner. All told, PointCast’s deals with transaction partners represent $3 million in advertising.
The company is not permitted to take a cut of online stock trading because third parties cannot have a share of stockbrokers’ commissions.
The PointCast Business Network has 1.2 million members. The PointCast College Network launched last September and has 100,000 members.
PointCast’s strategy for online transactions is geared more toward services than shopping. “How many times does a professional have to track a package or look up a travel reservation?” Zornosa said. “We want services that will help our viewers navigate their lives.”
According to an IntelliQuest survey, many of the 1.2 million PointCast Business Network members are willing Internet spenders. Of those who participated in the poll, 63 percent had made a purchase on the Web.
By contrast, only 27 percent of the general Internet population had done so, according to a Find/SVP survey conducted earlier this year.
Also according to the IntelliQuest data, 42 percent have looked at computer hardware on the Internet, and 20 percent have purchased it online; 47 percent researched a travel purchase online, and 20 percent have booked their travel online.