INTERNET: Sites to be seen - Robert Dwek logs on to the Web sites run by media brands which took top places in this year’s prestigious Yell awards

In the second annual Internet awards sponsored by Yell, the UK’s Internet version of the Yellow Pages, four of the finalists were well-known media brands, and two went on to win top awards.

In the second annual Internet awards sponsored by Yell, the UK’s

Internet version of the Yellow Pages, four of the finalists were

well-known media brands, and two went on to win top awards.



Marketing asked the four - Capital FM, Teletext, lads’ magazine Loaded

and BBC TV’s Top Gear - about the challenge of translating their brand

values from one medium to another and what they hoped to get out of the

Web.



Yell believes that this year’s awards show that UK Web sites are

maturing nicely. ’A year ago, things were very experimental, but now

they’re much richer in technology and more mainstream,’ says Yell’s

usage development manager, Barbara Newman. ’We felt the awards

demonstrated that the standards in the UK are as high as anywhere

else.’



Capital FM (www.capitalfm.co.uk)



Site of the Year



This was the fifth award for Capital’s much-feted Web site. An

in-your-face explosion of sound and colour, the site even offers direct

access to the station’s live broadcast - albeit with a slight time

lag.



You can listen to interviews, sample new albums and singles, scrutinise

the charts, cinema listings and pub and club guides and enter

competitions.



Much of this material does not go out on air.



’We are in the business of consumer entertainment,’ says Capital’s

advertising sales manager, Julian Hardy. ’Whether that means our Capital

Cafe, or our broadcasting interests or new media such as the Internet,

the unifying aim is to build a sense of the Capital community. We are a

brand that wants to interact with its audience, while being very

commercial at the same time.’



The great advantage of the Internet, he says, is its ability to let

consumers - in this case listeners - respond immediately and directly to

what they are hearing or seeing. Radio is, of course, much more limited

in this respect.



Hardy points to a good example of cross-media synergy: a cryptic Web

site banner ad promoting the newly released film Men In Black was

flagged up by Chris Tarrant during his breakfast show.



This resulted in thousands of e-mails and phone calls from intrigued

listeners and, of course, gave a big boost to the Web site’s

popularity.



The almost-live Internet broadcast has helped Capital to reach a

potentially lucrative new audience in the US and elsewhere. This is

highly attractive for the station in that it helps to dramatically

expand the reach of its brand as well as attracting new advertisers. It

is also handy for Capital fans who want to tune in from afar.



The site carries a healthy stream of ads, although it is not quite

profitable yet. High levels of investment are the short-term priority

but a flexible approach to different forms of advertising should, says

Hardy, ensure profitability in the not-too-distant future.



Teletext (www.teletext.co.uk)



Best Online Publication



As a media owner committed to TV, the launch of a Web site would appear

to go against the core values of what Teletext is about. But with the

onset of interactive TV and digital programming, Teletext knows that it

has to expand into alternative media.



’The big challenge for us is changing consumer perceptions about the

Teletext name,’ admits Graham Lovelace, Teletext’s editor-in-chief. The

brand is watched on TV by millions of people on a weekly basis, where

its news, sport, business and leisure information vies with the BBC’s

Ceefax.



The Teletext Web site, launched in 1994 but heavily transformed in the

past year, is the company’s way of positioning itself for the digital

era.



’We are not trying to get everybody to ignore our TV service in favour

of our Web site,’ says Lovelace. ’What we want is for consumers to start

seeing Teletext as a portable brand, one which is always on hand,

whether they’re in an electronic street kiosk, on a mobile phone, a

laptop, a pager or in front of a TV set.



’Other brands, such as Radio Times and Radio Rentals, have grown out of

their original, quite limited proposition, and we believe we can do the

same. We intend to take advantage of all the new delivery systems for

information.’



Job searches, holiday information and news are some of the regular

Teletext features that have an added immediacy and usefulness on a

real-time Web site.



There is even a real-time ’Web cam’ trained on Teletext’s editorial

office so that visitors can see staff hard at work gathering

information. A particularly useful function is a news archive, in which

visitors can search out stories from 1996 and earlier this year. There

is also news about new developments on the Net, with useful sites listed

by category.



The site has been adapted ’significantly’ in response to customer

feedback, and Lovelace is convinced that it is just a question of

communicating Teletext’s new services for them to catch on.



’This is a very trustworthy name and one that is familiar in what might

seem like a very alien environment for many people.’



Winning the Yell award seems to be as good a way as any of marketing the

new-look Teletext. Lovelace is happy to report that Web site traffic has

quadrupled since it gained its gong.



Uploaded (www.uploaded.com)



Finalist



The online version of bestselling men’s magazine Loaded is one of

several IPC titles enjoying success on the Net. Others include NME and

Marie Claire.



IPC marketing manager of new media Stuart Ledden has no qualms in

stating his global ambitions for these Web sites. ’I’m very interested

in promoting Loaded and NME to US audiences, but I also want to make

some money out of this. The aim is to build up a loyal online audience

and lots of well-tracked advertising revenue.’



Uploaded, which has been registering close to two million page

impressions a month from about 160,000 users, began life last November.

’Rather than just bunging the magazine up there, I wanted to communicate

the brand values in a way that takes advantage of the medium,’ explains

Ledden.



To help achieve this aim, there is lots of interactivity, audio versions

of articles appearing in the magazine, a music mixing area and even a

constantly-updated message board, which acts as a sort of lads’ news

group and adds to that all-important sense of community.



The site is also significantly raunchier than the printed version, with

a photo gallery of shots that may not make it into the magazine. It is

highly interactive, with ’the most stupid and irrelevant notice board on

the Net’ and a dictionary of swear words which visitors can ad to.



A two-year business plan should lead to profitability, although Ledden

says advertising revenue will inevitably be an uphill struggle in the

short term for sites without classified sections.



He is confident that good money should come through eventually in the

form of sponsorships and advertorials, as well as from the more

established banners.



Top Gear (www.topgear.com)



Finalist



This site began life at the end of March and does not yet have any

audited figures. ’We have targeted an ambitious level of page views and

we seem to be exceeding them,’ is all Simon Johnson, the site’s head of

marketing, will say.



Being used as an important toe in the water for the soon to be

officially launched Beeb Web site, Top Gear would seem, like Loaded, to

be an ideal brand for the Web because it is aimed at a young male

audience - or ’petrolheads’, as Johnson describes them.



’We set out to create a Web solution that complemented rather than

replicated our other two formats (TV programme and magazine),’ says

Johnson.



He believes that it is a ’quite functional site, with tools and services

that you don’t see on our other formats’. For example, something called

Car Chooser allows the user to tap in their personal preferences and

budget in order to receive a list of suggested cars. There are also tax

and financial calculators.



Advertising revenue has been strong, with a bonus coming from pounds 10

subs to play a game called Fantasy Formula 1. The site has successfully

used secure transaction technology to collect these payments.



For Johnson, the secret to success on the Web is in providing ’quality

content that is not available anywhere else’. He says that although the

Web is a good way of reaching a new audience, ’you must be commercial

about it from the word go’.



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