International Portal Boasts High Click-Throughs

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A startup Web portal that recently launched sites targeting Internet users in nine countries is touting banner ad click-through rates double the U.S. average and expects to serve 50 million banners a day in the next four to six months., a subsidiary of language translation technology company LanguageForce Inc., Orange, CA, pays its 2 million registered users for spending time online and for referring new members.

People outside North America often are more receptive to banner ads -- largely because they aren't sick of them yet. But Ian S. Simpson, CEO of LanguageForce, said registered members also click banners more often because they feel have a stake in the portal.

"A lot of these people in different countries, they are not burned out by being inundated by banners in their own language," Simpson said. "And too, they are just culturally more receptive when they have a proprietary interest." When someone from Japan is getting paid to surf, for instance, "they have a feeling that, 'Hey, this is part of me,'" he said.

Significantly, North Americans still comprise about 80 percent of GoToWorld's current members, yet its banners are generating click-through rates roughly double the 0.35 percent that is the industry standard, Simpson said. The company projects its membership base doubling to 4 million in the next two to three months, and about half that membership base is expected to be from outside the US and Canada.

In November GoToWorld expanded on its US site by debuting new portals targeting users in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain and Taiwan. The firm expects to dedicate portals to other countries next year.

People who download a free GoToWorld browser get paid for every hour they spend online, and receive a lower fee for every hour their referrals spend online. The referral system extends to three levels of referred users, with no limit on the total number of referrals possible. Fees are based on a percentage of how much banner advertisers are paying for each thousand impressions while the member is online.

For example, an average cost-per-thousand (CPM) of $12 will garner a member 40 cents for each hour he or she is online, plus ten cents per hour for each friend that member referred. The member also gets 15 cents for each person referred by their friends, and 20 cents for each person referred in turn by their friends' referrals. Members are paid a monthly check.

GoToWorld currently is getting CPMs of between $15 and $20 in Europe, and an average of $2.80 in the United States. The company now is running about 15 million banners daily.

Naturally, to get their checks, members have to let GoToWorld know where they live. In addition to collecting postal addresses of its registrants, the company gathers phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Noting that more information can "increase advertising income," the sites suggest that new members give their age, occupation, average family income, educational attainment, preferred language and the last time they bought something on the Net.

Simpson said GoToWorld is increasing its use of registration data to target users with ads.

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