Mining the Web

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Posted by Newsroom on March 09, 1997 at 16:57:03:

The Chicago Tribune: Michelle Rafter

Casting call Seeking "guides" for original content

By Michelle V. Rafter
Thursday, March 6, 1997

During his brief tenure running MCI/News Corp.'s Internet
operations, [ Scott] Kurnit found out how expensive it is to publish
original content on the Web. Salaries for the contingent of
full-time writers and editors needed to produce a steady stream of
new material could crush an Internet start-up before it got off
the ground, he said.
So when Kurnit created the Mining Company, he decided to use a
different approach: hire knowledgeable people -- professionals or
hobbyists -- who already had Web sites as independent contractors,
let them come up with the content and give them a cut of the ad
revenues the site pulls in.

Since the Mining Company opened a casting call for guides two
weeks ago, close to 2,000 people have downloaded the company's
online application, 450 have returned it and 300 been accepted
into a three-week guide boot camp. The Mining Company's public
beta features six channels, including areas devoted to net
culture, the soap "Days of Our Lives", visiting Tokyo and NBA
basketball. Another 77 are up but won't be open to the public
until the site's official launch sometime in April.
Guides will split 40 percent of the Mining Company's total ad
revenue, but as a failsafe, the first 300 on board will receive a
$250 monthly stipend through September.

The Mining Company is charging advertisers $25 to $60 per thousand
impressions/page views -- on par with other major Web sites -- and
promising to deliver 1.5 million page views during its first three
months in business, jumping to 6 million page views a day by the
end of 1997.

Fourteen charter advertisers include consumer goods companies such
as Chevrolet, Olympus, Maytag and Nabisco as well as financial and
computer services companies, and the U.S. Army.
The Mining Company eventually could add revenue from online
transactions and subscriptions, but Kurnit's not counting on it

"Those models haven't found their footing on the net, so it would
be naive to promise ourselves or our investors a business plan
based on them," Kurnit said.

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