[26 March 2001] – Media24, a wholly owned Naspers subsidiary, has teamed up with Interconnective Solutions (Isolutions) to form Audio24. The newly formed joint venture will serve as an interactive voice portal for brands within the Naspers stable (which include Beeld, City Press and News24 among its 140 odd titles), allowing readers to phone in and rate articles or receive more information on a specific topic, with other services to be developed in time.
The company will generate revenue by taking a cut from the Telkom call charges.
The companies claim that the partnership will considerably impact the local print and Integrated Voice Response (IVR) industries. Audio24s perceived target market is people without Internet access, who will be able to access at least part of the net through these voice portals. A number of these portals will reportedly be pin or code driven, allowing users to quickly access specific information.
Mark Smith, MD of Interconnective Solutions, says: “While everything will be totally automated, it will all be very interactive and callers will have the choice of selecting what sort of information they require.” The system, he says, will make communication between the publications and their audience more immediate without tying up extra human resources.
The systems underlying Audio24 have taken 3 years and R5 million to develop and is expected to take between six and nine months to roll out completely. Isolutions is currently formalizing contracts with companies seeking to establish similar communication channels with their customers and clients.
One of the more interesting aspects of the deal, in our opinion, is the invisible billing mechanism used to collect their revenue. A great barrier to people buying online is the tedious process one must undergo. By incorporating the transaction fees with the monthly telephone bill, one makes it far easier to purchase, as in this example, content.
Apart from easing the transaction, utilizing the telecommunications billing mechanism conceals the charges. Out of sight is out of mind, again adding to the likelihood of purchase.
An invisible billing mechanism, we believe, is, although not essential, a valuable tool for B2C content sites seeking profitability.