Netscape, Commission Junction Hook Up

America Online-owned Netscape, reborn in January as an low-cost ISP, has launched an affiliate marketing program with affiliate network Commission Junction.

The move aims to snare new subscribers for the bare-bones, $9.95-a-month dial-up service via ads on sites within Commission Junction’s 70,000-site network. ValueClick-owned Commission Junction will handle tracking, billing and payment for Netscape and the sites running its ads. The sites will be paid a commission of $25 per signup in May, a temporary launch price.

It’s “vitally important” for AOL to get the word out about its low-cost ISP offering, and affiliate networks are a good way to do so, according to Marc Ryan, director of analysis for Nielsen//Net Ratings. AOL has been steadily losing subscribers. Some are thought to be migrating to broadband, while others are likely leaving for low-cost ISPs like United Online’s Juno or NetZero.

Netscape has signed up more than 1,300 publishers on the Commission Junction network to run its ads. “The typical ramp-up time is six months. Netscape has gotten up to speed in about a third of that time,” said Elizabeth Cholawsky, SVP of marketing and product development for Commission Junction.

The Netscape ads on the affiliate network play up the ISP’s $9.95 monthly cost and include banner ads and text links. Users click on the ads to go to getnetscape.com and sign up.

Affiliate marketing is still gaining recognition and market share as a marketing practice. ValueClick acquired Commission Junction in October 2003, eventually merging it with BeFree, ValueClick’s own affiliate network. The combo, now know as Commission Junction, is one of the largest affiliate networks in business today. Landing a high-profile advertiser like AOL’s Netscape should bring added business — and validation — to Commission Junction. It “confirms the effectiveness of performance-based marketing,” according to Jeff Pullen, general manager of Commission Junction. The company also boasts Barnes & Noble and The Gap as advertisers.

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