Internet

PointCast plans a new look

Tightening its focus on business professionals, PointCast plans to unveil a redesigned version of its business news channel.

Tightening its focus on business professionals, PointCast on Monday plans to unveil a redesigned version of its business news channel with additional news feeds, stock portfolio tracking, and the ability to do online stock trades from within the PointCast service.

The new "Companies Channel" and a new gateway to the Internet called "EntryPoint" have drawn 11 new advertisers to PointCast, including six online brokerages, bookstore BarnesandNoble.com, and travel agency Travelocity, the company said.

PointCast also will release results of a new study of PointCast users, research that sheds light not only on users of the service, but also more broadly on Internet users as a whole. One finding: PointCast users are changing their media habits, with 46 percent reading newspapers less, 23 percent reading magazines less, and 21 percent watching less TV.

Jaleh Bisharat, PointCast senior vice president of marketing, said, "Our viewers are far more affluent, business-oriented users than the Internet in general, and they're more prone to action--two times more likely to shop on the Net than the average user."

The proprietary research was conducted for PointCast by technology market research house IntelliQuest, which got responses from 2,448 PointCast users. PointCast results were compared to data on Internet users in IntelliQuest's Worldwide Internet/Online Tracking Service (WWITS).

Internet marketers and Web publishers will probe PointCast user data to shed light on the habits and characteristics of Net-savvy business executives.

PointCast viewers had mean household incomes of $109,000, the research found, an unusually high figure for a broad media outlet. Among other findings:

  • 63 percent of PointCast users have bought something on the Net in the last 12 months, and 32 percent have done so in the past 30 days. That compares to 27 percent of overall Internet users who have bought items online in the last year and 16 percent who have done so in the last month.

  • 58 percent of PointCast users have used a credit card to buy on the Web, and 28 percent more plan to do so in the next year.

  • 31 percent of PointCast users had household incomes above $100,000, compared to 16 percent for all Net users.

  • 44 percent of PointCast users were in top management, compared to 33 percent of all Internet users.

  • 69 percent of PointCast users had college degrees, compared to 42 percent of all Internet users.

    PointCast users also researched and bought big-ticket items on the Web: 45 percent researched an auto purchase and 3 percent said they bought on the Web; 42 percent researched computer hardware and 20 percent bought it; 47 percent researched travel and 20 percent rented a car, booked a hotel room, or made an airline reservation; 38 percent researched online trading services and 10 percent completed a trade on the Web.

    That last result may explain why several online brokerages--AmeriTrade, Charles Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity Investments, and Suretrade--ponied up as sponsors in PointCast's new online trading area. Other new sponsors include job listings service CareerPath, online auction house OnSale, and mapping and yellow-page service Zip2.

    PointCast said more than 86 percent of its 1 million-plus users use its business service. A beta form of the new software can be downloaded from PointCast's Web site. Existing users will automatically receive the redesigned service next month.