NetZero Launches Ad-Backed Access Service

Startup operation NetZero Inc.
launched a free Internet access service backed by highly targeted ads in an
on-screen window that can’t be closed.

The company has funding from idealab Capital Partners, the venture capital arm
of Bill Gross’s idealab incubator. Other Idealab companies include,
CitySearch and eToys.

To subscribe to NetZero, users must complete a profile that captures their
interests and demographic data. NetZero’s patent-pending zCast software
automatically refines the profile by continuously monitoring online behavior,
facilitating the delivery of precisely targeted ads.

The zCast software provides Dynamic Targeting–a system that generates
geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral information in real

NetZero will provide free Internet access via a local dial-up account and an
e-mail account for each individual user in a household, a business or at
specific location, such as a school or public library.

“Listeners and viewers don’t pay for radio or network TV, and there’s
absolutely no reason to pay for Internet access,” said Ronald T. Burr, CEO
of NetZero.

“Where banner advertising is hit or miss at best, NetZero delivers ads users
actually want to see. . . This is a huge breakthrough, especially for local
advertisers, who have yet to see the interactive medium work for them,” he

Strategic partners include AGIS in
Detroit and NetGravity in San Mateo, CA. AGIS is
providing the backbone infrastructure; NetGravity will deploy exclusive ad
server software for NetZero.

On the desktop, zCast opens the AdVantage Window, a movable, 1-inch-by 3-inch
portion of an 800 x 600 display that continuously delivers high-quality,
30-second ads in sync with the user’s profile, interests and online behavior.
The subscriber can move the AdVantage Window to a preferred location on the
screen, but cannot close it. Controls on the AdVantage Window enable
subscribers to bookmark an ad, scroll forward and backward, and print coupons
or other promotional offers.

Because the AdVantage Window operates independently of both content and the
browser, ads can be targeted to a specific URL. American Airlines, for
example, can now display its ad before NetZero subscribers who visit any
travel site.

For precise local market targeting, NetZero said it can drill down to within a
five- to seven-mile radius of the subscriber, by using the three-digit dialup
phone prefix to create a geographic profile.

NetZero said it designed its system and software to disassociate the
subscriber’s information from his or her identity, for privacy purposes.
NetZero, a member of TRUSTe, said it will not sell its list of
subscribers or otherwise provide individual subscriber data to any third

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