GeoCities and Be Free to Build E-Commerce Infrastructure

Community site operation GeoCities signed an agreement with Be Free Inc., a provider of online affiliate e-commerce network technology and services, to jointly create an e-commerce infrastructure.

The companies said the infrastructure will be designed to allow brand-name merchants to leverage the content generated by GeoCities’ 3.3 million Homesteaders, i.e.–GeoCities members who have built personal Web sites and published over 29 million personal Web pages.

The new infrastructure will give any merchant the ability to partner with GeoCities’ Homesteaders, placing products and services in context on Homesteader personal pages. In exchange for placing a merchant’s links, GeoCities members earn commissions from that merchant for each product they sell.

“Be Free’s technology will unlock the monetary potential of our 3.3 million members,” said Thomas R. Evans, president and CEO of GeoCities. “It’s a classic win-win. Leading Internet retailers will have the opportunity to increase their reach and e-commerce revenue through leveraging our members’ Web sites. Our members will receive a bounty for sales generated through their sites.”

The joint GeoCities/Be Free effort will give merchants a combination of GeoCities’ community with Be Free’s affiliate technology, giving any merchant instant access to millions of potential affiliates for the sale of their products, the firms said. Financial arrangements between the two companies were not disclosed.

GeoCities said it will charge a marketing fee to retailers. Participation in the program is free for GeoCities Homesteaders and will be available by March 1.

“Affiliate networks are becoming a highly effective way to generate revenue online,” said Gordon Hoffstein, president and CEO of Be Free. “GeoCities’ infrastructure will take traditional affiliate networks one step further by providing a sales channel for online merchants who want immediate access to a vast pool of potential commission selling partners. Be Free’s affiliate network solution also provides merchants with real-time market intelligence on the effectiveness of each affiliate storefront.”

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