Site Markets Via Trades, Planes and Automobiles

Share this article:, a retail megasite for consumers, is taking a number of off-the-beaten-path routes to market its site. Perhaps the most unusual is its deal to swap equity for links on related Web sites. Other initiatives include advertising during in-flight entertainment and on race cars.

Within the next 60 days, the site will begin its associate program in which it will trade shares of stock in exchange for links on as many as 5,000 Web sites. The associates will also have the option of selling WorldBestBuy's products on their sites.

To find qualified site owners, began collecting names at both the Comdex and Consumer Electronics Shows. It received 40,000 completed forms from interested site owners; however, about "30,000 didn't have an e-mail address or phone numbers," or were not viable businesses, according to Elliot Borin, COO at San Diego-based

"That's a novel approach for obtaining eyeballs. I have not heard of anything like this," said H. Peet Rapp, senior research analyst at ActivMedia Research, Peterborough, NH. "It could be a trend to watch. It could end up being a very win-win situation. If they're successful, the companies with links could become very wealthy."

One of the site's main marketing thrusts, advertising on airlines' in-flight entertainment systems, is being expanded. The site appears on United Airlines, TWA and USAirways flights. It soon will add two additional airlines, including an international carrier.

This strategy was designed to reach the business community as the site looks to attract vendors and raise awareness among consumers.

"Primarily we're just trying to get more vendors and more people to join the associate program," Borin said. "With consumers, it's just a matter of starting the process of increasing name recognition."

To encourage consumer purchases, the site is looking into putting coupons in the airlines' in-flight magazines. "This way they can carry the Web address away with them," said Borin.

The site hopes to gain more exposure through its involvement with auto racing. It is entering a car in the Indy 500, the Winston Cup series and the Busch National program. It is also looking into a sponsorship of a Formula One race car. Much like it's plans for the airlines, the site is considering putting a coupon in the racing programs. is owned and operated by International Brands Inc.
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