Advo Readies Launch of Internet Shopping Portal

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Advo Inc., Windsor, CT, is preparing to unveil an Internet shopping portal that will be promoted through its traditional household coupon distribution systems and will provide links to the e-commerce sites of its advertisers.


Rick Kurz, senior vice president of strategic business development and chief strategic growth officer at Advo, said the cooperative-mail company expects to unveil more details about the site within about 60 days.


"If our portal to the household today is the mailbox and the messages that we put inside of our shared mail program, then the logical extension of that for us is to move to an actual shopping portal on the Web," he said. "We are very close to that."


The portal, he said, will "aggregate both coupon and promotional content for consumers" and will "offer integrated e-commerce functionality."


During the past two years, Advo, which delivers coupons and other promotional materials to more than 60 million households weekly, has been working with such consulting firms as Jupiter Communications, Forrester Research and the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop an Internet strategy. The consultants have been a valuable sounding board to facilitate Advo's transition into the digital world, according to Kurz.


"There have been lots of times when we thought we had a great idea, and they just said, 'Hey, wait a second, you guys might want to rethink this,' " he said. "But now I think we've got it to the point where we can go on this."


The move follows other recent developments in which the direct marketing company has been beefing up its Internet activity. Advo recently launched a targeted Internet coupon-distribution system through a partnership between its Super Coups division and CoolSavings Inc., Chicago, and in December Advo launched an alliance with database provider The Polk Co., Southfield, MI, to provide cooperative mail programs for Internet companies.


The Polk partnership allows marketers to reach households on Polk's High Tech Connect database via cooperative direct mail. The service, which is an enhancement of the Advo Targeting Zone niche-marketing program the mailer launched last year, is being marketed to Internet retailers, Kurz said. He estimated that about 60-70 Internet companies are in some stage of testing with the Polk database.
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