RealTime IT News

Free ISP Partners For New Business Model

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] Melbourne-based free ISP GoConnect has launched a portal complete with e-commerce partners as part of a drive to expand its online business model.

Through the new portal, GoConnect will seek to push into four e-commerce areas, with finance, shopping, leisure and community services sections of the site.

GoConnect will use new partner LookSmart as a site content provider, with the ISP's now 56,000 members able to access the edited and reviewed sites that LookSmart develops. This kind of content provision and licensing will form a key part of LookSmart's revenue model in the future, as new chief executive officer said last month when he arrived in the position.

GoConnect managing director David Tam said that the deal with LookSmart will provide more portal functionality for the ISP's existing users, and he hoped it would help drive traffic to the portal and "generate revenue for both LookSmart and GoConnect immediately, and strengthen our online advertising delivery model." "We can expect to achieve greater advertising impressions, which in turn takes advantage of the true potential of GoTrek as an online advertising medium," said Tam.

"This agreement enhances our member offerings and increases the length of time they are likely to spend at the GoConnect portal. Already on average members spend 22 minutes on the site."

GoTrek, which is GoConnect's proprietary advertising technology, delivers video and sound advertisements to a pop-up window that remains active while the GoConnect member is online and using the ISP service. This is essentially the exchange the user must offer for GoConnect's free Internet access.

The content LookSmart will provide will initially be supported by the e-commerce and community service categories, for which e-tailers, Wishlist, dstore, Sanity Music, employment service Seek and Chinese portal nihao2000 will join as strategic partners. Tam said that GoConnect was also currently in discussions with other potential partners.

"There will be about 15 subsections in each of the portal's four main categories, and three or four partners behind each of those," said Tam. "We're planning then to have between 150 and 200 partners, and we're aiming to have half of them by the end of the year and the other half in the six months after that."

While the community services and the shopping categories are already operational, Tam expected it would be around six to eight weeks before the finance and leisure sections went live. In the interim, GoConnect will continue pursuing partners to support these categories.

GoConnect's expanding business model will draw revenue from three main areas: a commission from every transaction conducted through its portal, the advertising revenue derived from GoTrek and site advertising, and the fees it will draw from the licensing deals for GoTrek's technology. "We are currently discussing licensing with several ISPs overseas, and we're not averse to licensing it locally."

Although GoConnect has 56,000 members using the service, Tam said that there are a further 400,000 people who have registered an interest in the ISP, but are still waiting for access. This was a situation that caused the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to ask GoConnect to stop its online and offline marketing campaign to attract members, as people who had already signed on were waiting to gain access to the ISP.

"We're not getting sufficient capacity from Telstra, and that has forced us to push back our plans for reaching 500,