Jotter Hopes Free Organizer Will Yield Ad Revenue

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Software firm Jotter Technologies, Edmonton, Alberta, is selling advertising aimed at subscribers to Jotter, a personal organizer and Web management tool the company began offering for free from its Web site (www.jotter.com) on April 14.


The package is another in a recent spate of organizer-type offerings from Internet companies seeking to get people to store important dates and other information with them. The goal is to hold Net surfers' attention long enough to sell advertising around them and to learn enough about their habits and interests through registration information to charge a premium for targeted ads.


Jotter subscribers indicate their interest in various categories -- such as cars, PCs, travel and music -- when they download the program. Jotter also sends e-mail reminders of upcoming important dates and stores user names and passwords to various Web sites.


Advertisers can target subscribers with Jotter's reminder function. PC Flowers, for example, sends ads along with birthday and anniversary reminders. Jotter Technologies charges advertisers $20 to $25 per thousand impressions.


About 2,000 subscribers have downloaded the program so far. The company estimates it will have 500,000 subscribers by the end of the year and 1 million in the next 12 to 18 months.


The company plans to launch a print and radio campaign this fall and has announced a cooperative advertising agreement with the search engine MiningCo.com (www.miningco.com). Jotter Technologies expects to soon announce similar agreements with other search engines, and it is negotiating with large online merchants such as booksellers.


It also offers incentives to subscribers who get others to register. "If you get a friend to register with us, then you get discounts on products from our commerce partners," said Barbara Sargenti, vice president of marketing and business development.


Organizers in this category differ slightly in tools they provide, but the premise is the same: Applications downloaded for personal use that stay with the user throughout Web sessions track passwords, help in completing Web-based forms and provide electronic reminders.


"We have attracted advertisers through a combination of word-of-mouth and online advertising," Cynthia Lohr, director of corporate communications for rival content management provider Alexa. "We have related links and are integrated into Internet Explorer 5.0 and Netscape's 'What's Related' feature. To date, we have 2 million installs of the product."


Bridget Leach, content management industry analyst with the Giga Group, Boston, predicted the category will continue to grow. "This is certainly an area where we will see a lot of growth because commerce is increasing on the Web," she said. "Advertising is one way that online media sales can achieve a revenue model without selling subscriptions, and the Web is capable of supporting this. It enables more targeted information to be delivered in a more targeted context."
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