Ad-Backed Syndicated Portal Network Launches

Z.Com in Atlanta officially launched as a portal along with 1,500 other syndicated and custom-branded sites intended as portals for radio stations, TV stations, newspapers and magazines.

The syndicated portal sites, known collectively as the World Network, were unveiled at the same time Z.Com launched its own new portal site. Charter advertisers include Hilton Hotels, 1-800-Flowers, Cybermeals and Netscape.

Advertising will be sold by MediaRep, the new ad sales division of Z.Com.

Affiliated radio stations make up the majority of the World Network syndicated portals and include Z100 New York, 99X Atlanta and Star San Diego.

“World Network portals allow radio stations and other media companies to retain Web visitors that would otherwise be lost to other portals,” said Jeff Gold, CEO of Z.Com. “With our heavy emphasis on radio, we are attracting advertisers that want to reach radio listeners everywhere.”

Gold said that thousands of pages of original content are presented on each syndicated World Network portal including world news, movie reviews, new music, Web site guides, electronic postcards and an environmental news section.

“The World Network almost eliminates the need for an outside search engine for our listeners,” said Ron Pritchard, program director at Michigan’s Hits 106. “They use it as their homepage, giving us top of mind awareness every time they log on.”

While the syndicated portals are a new undertaking, World Network companies have been providing Web services to media outlets for several years.

“All six of our ABC sites have been with World Network for over three years,” said Kristen Gordon, new media manager for ABC Minneapolis. “In the Internet world that says a lot about professionalism, dependability, and the partnership we have created together.”

Prior to this project, Gold founded several other successful Internet businesses including FM Net, Musictown, Go Chat! and Go.Com. The Walt Disney Co. acquired the Go.Com domain from Gold earlier this year for a joint venture with Infoseek.

Custom World Network portals are being hosted for media outlets in most major U.S. markets and over 40 other countries. The sites link directly into various content networks.

Cooperative relationships have been established with Yahoo, Excite, HotBot, NetFind by America Online and Switchboard by Banyan Systems Inc. The World Network news section is updated as news breaks, and includes links to related stories by the BBC and CNN. Classified ads are provided by Classifieds2000.

World Network portals also incorporate Gold’s Go Chat! network.

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