Media Firm AIM Smart Offers Free Internet Accounts Through
( Electronic Advertising & Marketplace Report )
Working in partnership with three mall developers and retailers, AIM
Smart Corp. (Goodrich, MI) has launched a promotional program built
on giving free Internet accounts to mall shoppers.
Through the partnership, AIM is offering a series of kiosks connected
through a high-speed backbone. The "Smart Shopper Pavilions" are designed
to let users search for products across all retailers. Mall stores
pay $100 to display a 30-second video advertisement on the kiosk.
At the same time, mall shoppers are offered a CD-ROM that provides
everything they need to log onto the Internet, including a customized
version of the Internet Explorer browser called "Smart Shopper Explorer."
Shoppers can also be enrolled in The Rouse Co.'s Premier Shopper
Club, which offers exclusives, discounts and special services.
AIM Smart is beginning the commercial launch of Smart Shopper Network
through 28 retail centers owned and managed by affiliates of Columbia,
MD-based real estate investment trust The Rouse Co. The system has
already been installed in 14 Rouse malls and should roll out to the
others over the next few weeks.
While kiosks are still critical to AIM Smart's strategy, the Internet
component of the program should reach out beyond loyal mall shoppers
to busy consumers who aren't as likely to visit the mall often, executives
"What we've done is move the point of service from the mall to the
homes around the mall," said Garry Eberhardt, chief operating officer
of AIM Smart. "We believe that e-commerce, using the local malls as
a fulfillment center, is the best way to go."
While Eberhardt would not disclose what AIM Smart is charging for
advertising on the Internet component, he told EAMR that, if shoppers
spend an average of 1.5 hours per month online, the company will do
well. AIM Smart can make $5 in advertising revenues for every dollar
it spends providing Internet service, he said. For each of these sales
channels, the real estate management firm and AIM Smart split revenues
Theoretically, AIM Smart could ultimately end up supporting as many
as 17.3 million Internet accounts-that's the number of people in the
metropolitan areas served by the Rouse malls. That number could grow
to much greater proportions if AIM Smart's additional agreements proceed
In addition to the Rouse deal, AIM Smart has agreements in place with
The DeBartolo Group, which operates 240 malls, and WellsPark Group,
which operates 31 malls. AIM Smart expects to be available in 100
to 125 malls by the end of 1998 and 550 malls by 2000.
Originally, the company intended to offer only the Smart Shopper kiosk
network. But in the last two years, as AIM Smart researched the concept,
executives decided to add Internet connectivity to the mix. For about
a year, AIM Smart tested out the Internet concept with the Laguna
Hills Mall in California. More than 90% of the Laguna Hills stores
advertised in the kiosk portion of the program, Eberhardt said.