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LookSmart to be ISP home page

The Reader's Digest subsidiary aims to attract a mass audience to its comarketed home page.

Reader's Digest subsidiary LookSmart today launched a content partnership with Internet service providers, the latest effort by a print media giant to print money on the Net.

The LookSmart Network combines Net access from the ISPs with what Reader's Digest calls "tailored versions" of the LookSmart search service to provide a home page for users. The network will be demonstrated at next week's ISPCON '97 trade show in San Francisco.

LookSmart has signed on a group of ISPs that includes Internet America, Rocky Mountain Internet, Concentric Internet Services, and Micron. "We have already partnered with ISPs representing 800,000 subscribers for our tailored home page service, including significant national players and the often-underestimated regional players," said David Gold, director of the LookSmart Network.

The network provides ISP subscribers with an intuitive gateway to the Web, including 12,500 subject categories, AltaVista's search engine, and customizable local content. ISPs also can customize the home page for their own use.

LookSmart also will launch comarketing efforts with the parent Reader's Digest Association to drive new subscribers to ISPs that sign up. "Reader's Digest magazine has such mass reach (27.5 million worldwide circulation) that it has more computer owners as readers than the top four PC magazines combined," said Sarah Hammann, director of new business development for the Reader's Digest Association.

Reader's Digest is not alone in this kind of effort. In June, a service called Planet Direct went live, which allows ISPs to offer consumer-oriented information to subscribers. It has signed up more than 70 ISPs, including Erol's Internet and IDT. Planet Direct is a new subsidiary of online and direct marketing company CMG Information Services.

The market to provide such Web gateways for ISPs is heating up. Also in June, CNET: The Computer Network (publisher of NEWS.COM) announced Snap Online, an aggregation service that directs users to content on the Internet. The service is set to launch next month.