Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
It pays to surf
Members can earn 50 cents an hour
Internet users can now get paid for being online. A US company is offering its members 50 cents for every hour spent surfing.
There is a catch - but not a big one. You only get paid when you keep an advertising bar open on screen.
The Viewbar, as it is called, launches automatically with the user's existing browser. It sits at the bottom of the window and acts like a clock.
You can close the bar anytime. However, if you keep it live, it is possible to earn a maximum of $20 a month.
AllAdvantage.com, which is a Palo Alto, California-based company, deployed the new marketing strategy this week.
"The great thing is that our members can use the Internet the same way they always have, but now they get paid for it," says Jim Jorgensen, CEO of AllAdvantage.com.
"Members do not need to change their browser, e-mail address or ISP (Internet Service Provider), and they can minimise or close the Viewbar with one click at any time."
AllAdvantage is also paying its members who refer friends to the system. In this way, a user can earn money for each hour a friend stays online with the Viewbar.
It is the type of marketing strategy that is more likely to work in a mature Net environment such as the US, where e-commerce and online advertising are further advanced than in the UK.
Nicholas Lansman from the UK's Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says telephone charges dissuade many people from going online even though Net access itself can be obtained free of charge.
He believes the use of the Viewbar idea in the UK will have to wait.
"Advertising revenue is a function of how many people are viewing that piece of publicity, and in the UK - I would argue - the amount of people shopping online is always going to be hampered if the cost of going online remains so expensive."