Free-PC Sets $10K Fee For Advertisers

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Free-PC Inc., Pasadena, CA, the company that has pledged to give away personal computers to customers who agree to be subjected to continuous, targeted advertising and to have to their Internet usage tracked, has set a $10,000 fee for advertisers to participate in a 90-day trial period.


The company is guaranteeing advertisers that their messages, which will be displayed continuously along the side of the computer screen whether uses are online or not, will receive 1 million impressions in the 90-day period. Free-PC also is promising to compile real-time reports on the performance of each ad.


"Every advertiser we've talked to views this like a research project," said Steve Chadima, vice president of marketing at Free-PC, one of several Internet start-ups created by idealab!.


The company is seeking 200 "charter" advertisers, who will be able to stock the computers' hard drives with up to 10 ads. Free-PC will upload information about users' online habits and through the phone lines, and will share the data with advertisers. Everything "expect the names and address" of the users will be made available to advertisers, said Steve Chadima, a vice president at Free-PC.


More than 1 million applicants have registered for the free computers, which are scheduled to be shipped in the second quarter. Although the company originally had said that users would be selected based on demographic profiles determined by the advertisers, the company has since changed the criteria. Instead, it is selecting a diverse sampling of consumers representative of the population at large that will allow advertisers to project meaningful results, according to Chadima.


In addition to the basic demographic questionnaire potential users filled out, they also will be given an additional questionnaire before they receive their PC that will contain questions about their future purchasing intentions and other information. Advertisers will have the opportunity to place questions on this second survey.
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