DETROIT - A new partnership between General Motors and NetZero Inc., a major provider of free Internet access, will allow the automaker to target individual customers.
Based on demographic data collected by NetZero, including what Web sites its 3 million current subscribers visit, GM will e-mail marketing promotions and incentives to specific consumers and direct them to specific local dealerships.
GM's electronic commerce business unit, e-GM, announced the four-year NetZero deal Thursday, Jan. 13, at the North American International Auto Show. It came just four days after announcing a similar marketing deal with America Online Inc.
But unlike the America Online agreement, GM has an option to buy up to 575,000 shares of common stock in NetZero at a total cost of $16.5 million.
Mark Hogan, president of e-GM, said the e-mail direct marketing could start within two months. The deal also links NetZero to the GM BuyPower vehicle buying Web site.
Nilesh Shah, an e-commerce automotive consultant with KPMG LLP, expects more partnerships that give automakers the ability to customize their marketing to individuals.
'The more you know about the customer, that's the power. And whoever has that power, that's going to be the dominating player,' Shah said.
NetZero, founded in 1998, provides its subscribers with free Internet access and free e-mail. In return, subscribers view a new advertisement every 30 seconds on their computer screens. Subscribers also fill out a demographics questionnaire when they sign up with NetZero.