Upside.com Adds Subscription-Based Portal to Boost Revenues

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High-tech publication Upside.com this week debuted a B4Utrade.com subscription-based financial services portal in an attempt to establish an additional revenue stream.


The move to offer fee-based services follows similar recent business shifts by free online publications, including Salon.com, Variety.com, TheStreet.com and Britannica.com.


"We, like many other online publications, rely heavily on ads. Our idea is not to be exclusively beholden on site ads to pay the bills. We are looking to things like B4Utrade to add revenues," said J.T. Farley, editor in chief of Upside.com, San Francisco. "Everyone in the field is trying to make money and we don't want to place all of our eggs in the ad revenue basket," he added.


The new portal, which is branded as B4Utrade.com, offers Upside.com's members real-time stock quotes, market commentary and a customized portfolio monitoring service, for a fee of $25 per month. The information on the portal is an aggregation of data from content providers including Dow Jones, Reuters, CNBC and Thompson Financial Services.


"We are coupling Upside's editorial content and streaming market audio update with B4Utrade's investing tools, so that the user need not go anywhere else for information," said Tom Wragg, vice president of advertising and strategic development at B4Utrade.com, San Francisco.


B4Utrade targets relatively active investors, primarily between the ages of 35 and 49 with an annual income of over $75,000. "Upside.com targets a similar demographic, therefore their audience is already pre-qualified for our service," Wragg said. B4Utrade partnered with Upside in an attempt to grow their user base to 50,000 by October of 2001, Wragg said, declining to disclose its current number of subscribers. Upside.com receives roughly 1.5 million unique visitors per month.


B4Utrade is marketing the new service through a banner advertisement on the Upside.com homepage and an ad on Upside.com's streaming audio service. The company will place ads later this month in Upside Magazine, a monthly print publication with roughly 300,000 subscribers.


To further promote the service, B4Utrade.com and Upside.com introduced a sweepstakes for all new subscribers to win a $25,000 portfolio, which will be awarded in early April.


"We decided to add the service, because better than 65 percent of our users trade stocks online," Farley said. "Twenty-five dollars [subscription fees] is on the low end of the scale," he said. He added that Upside.com selected B4Utrade.com because of the ease of use of the service.


Upside.com will receive a $5 upfront fee from B4Utrade.com for each new subscriber to the service and an additional $5 per user, per month. The companies will also share advertising revenues accrued through the portal, which Wragg expects to be priced at roughly 30 CPM.


In other news, B4Utrade.com plans to rollout within 60 days a wireless version of its service to all of its subscribers, Wragg said, adding that it is too early to disclose specifics.


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