Hewlett-Packard E-Newsletter to Accept Third-Party Ads

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Hewlett-Packard Co. next month will allow third-party marketers to advertise in the monthly e-mail newsletter it sends to 2.8 million subscribers.

The HP Newsgram provides recipients with tips for maintaining their HP computers and accessories, feature stories and new product information. The e-mails are delivered to consumers who have purchased HP desktop computers, scanners, Pavilion PCs, Deskjet printers and photo-imaging products.

HP, Palo Alto, CA, is charging marketers $65 per thousand names for the rights to place ads in the monthly e-mails. HP segments subscribers into a half-dozen categories based on the types of products they own. Each Newsgram combines articles of interest to all customers -- such as a feature on viruses or tax software -- with content specific to each category.

Until now, the Newsgram had been a private forum for HP to communicate with its customers -- part information resource and part marketing vehicle. HP's willingness to invite outside advertisers into its e-mail newsletters, even for a fee, is a marked departure for the company.

"HP has not made these opt-in e-mail names available at any point before," said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president at Worldata/WebConnect, Boca Raton, FL, the marketing services firm that HP hired to identify potential advertisers. "This is really [its] first foray into letting third parties communicate to their customers via e-mail."

HP said the change is more about giving its newsletter subscribers a wider range of information and product offers than it is about the advertising revenue.

"We offer a lot, but we don't offer everything," said Dave Stone, business development manager at HP's customer relationship management division. "So what we were looking at doing is augmenting the Newsgrams and bringing our customers relevant offers that we could not necessarily bring ourselves."

HP is planning to run the ads alongside related stories. In a test e-mail sent out earlier this year, HP placed an advertisement for Turbo Tax software adjacent to an article about filing income tax returns online.

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