January 12, 1998 12:25 PM PST

GeoCities, Egghead do commerce

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Personal Web page provider GeoCities took another step forward in its continuing transformation from community to e-commerce provider, inking a deal with PC retailer Egghead.

The partnership is the latest example of community-oriented sites using their membership as a platform for e-commerce. GeoCities struck a similar deal with Amazon.com last month to make the online bookseller an anchor tenant on the GeoCities MarketPlace shopping area. Another community site that has leveraged its membership base to lure advertisers is Talk City, a chat site that also launched a shopping area in December.

Community-oriented sites have been forced to strike these partnerships or risk going the way of Electric Minds and The Well--two formerly bustling sites that have struggled as the Internet has evolved from a libertarian community of independent thinkers to a marketplace filled with businesses and entrepreneurs.

Under the terms of the deal, Egghead and its subsidiary Surplus Direct will be featured on the GeoCities home page and throughout GeoCities' 40 "neighborhoods."

"The whole idea of being able to aggregate the traffic by area of interest speaks volumes for the ability to drill products through contextually," said Michael Barett, vice president of sales and marketing for GeoCities. "In this case, or with the deal that preceded it [with Amazon], we've taken this tremendous amount of traffic and distilled it to 40 separate areas so that you can match a product to an interest area."

Kate Delhagen, an e-commerce analyst with Forrester Research, supported the move by GeoCities, pointing out that PCs and computer peripherals are historically the strongest categories for online sales.

"GeoCities has a vibrant, Web-savvy, computer software-savvy audience," Delhagen said. "This is one of the better fits they could pick."

Even so, GeoCities members haven't been as quick to embrace some of the advertising deals the company has struck in the last few months.

The company recently came under fire for its use of "pop-up" ads. These ads, which literally pop-up in a separate window when a visitor logs on to a GeoCities page, have been faulted for being intrusive and annoying, and in some cases have been blamed for crashing browsers.

Barrett said the Egghead deal will include the use of pop-up ads.

 

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