A Report of the Working Group on Internet Advertising
The Coalition for Networked Information
September 28, 1994
Penny Shoppers are the four-page to 20-page tabloid-size agglomerations of classified and display ads that are wedged in the handle of front doors around the country. They contain nothing but advertising, mostly from mom-and-pop pizzerias, dry cleaners, and full-service gas stations in the neighborhood. They are a low-tech version of the coupon packages that are becoming popular in upscale areas.
The Internet has its own version of Penny Shoppers, the “misc.forsale” newsgroups that often focus on major metropolitan areas, and the lists sponsored by purveyors of products — often computers and software — that include as many new product announcements as answers to users’ queries. Those who subscribe to such newsgroups and lists know what they are getting, just as Penny Shopper readers recognize their blatantly commercial nature. Those people want to know what is for sale and on sale. That’s valuable information.
As a result, the proliferation of product-focused or sale-focused lists and newsgroups continues. It’s effective advertising because the customer chooses it.
I note that Sun has a press release mailing list (sunflash) which many people *voluntarily* subscribe to. In fact, some people archive it! [From: Christopher Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1993 17:27:12 -0500]
The Sun list is run by Sun and limited to Sun products. Other newsgroups and lists modeled after Penny Shoppers may be open to anyone, and many have advertised and sold everything from computer chips to houses on the Internet. Note all the different newsgroups on which the following ad appeared:
From: email@example.com (That's Mr. Death) Newsgroups: misc.forsale.computers.mac misc.forsale.computers misc.forsale misc.forsale.computers.workstation comp.sys.next.marketplace Subject: SIMM MEMORY - 4, 4Mb 30 pin for SALE Date: 9 Nov 93 12:45:09 GMT Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Followup-To: email@example.com Organization: New Mexico Tech Lines: 9 I have 4, 4Mb 30 pin SIMMS for sale. 1 * 8 I believe. They work great in NeXTStations and NeXT Cubes, and in most (if not all) Mac's. Not sure about what else uses them. Best offer takes them. I may sell them 1 at a time as long as I sell all four. Hey - make me an offer, you may get a great deal... thanks, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the advertiser’s point of view, these lists and newsgroups are golden. People who use them are not only “pre-qualified” because they are interested in the subject, they actually are actively seeking the products being offered. As Rob Raisch, president of the Internet Company, said in Mary Cronin’s recent book: “On the Internet the customers come to you.”
[Doing Business on the Internet, by Mary J. Cronin, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994. Page 129.]