Online launch for INL 'stuff'

By KARYN SCHERER

Independent Newspapers has indicated it may be prepared to wait up to four years before it makes a profit from its new website.

More than a year after signalling that it was going online, the Wellington-based media group finally launched its news supersite at an Auckland cybercafe yesterday.

However, the name of the site had already been revealed the day before - in one of its own magazines.

The name - www.stuff.co.nz - is the result of a brainstorming session with Wellington advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and had to be bought from a cybersquatter.

The company's internet manager, Mike Wierzbicki, described the name as a copywriter's dream, although he conceded that "it's not without risk, especially if we stuff up."

It was intended to launch the site, which includes content from a wide range of New Zealand's daily and weekly newspapers, last month but it was plagued by technical problems.

INL managing director Mike Robson said the company had tried to learn from mistakes made by other Murdoch companies in Australia, which had had "three to four goes at getting a decent model."

He admitted that the company had at first considered the internet a major threat, but said it no longer held that view.

Pointing to newspapers such as London's Daily Telegraph and the New York Times, he said the company intended to make the site "a good, profitable part of our business."

INL expected to spend $2 million to $3 million a year on the site.

It was pinning its hopes on advertising to offset the cost, and did not initially plan to charge for the service.

INL's links with Sky TV and Telecom are not yet apparent on the site, although it has said Sky content may be added later.

Information sent to advertising agencies shows that INL estimates the site will attract a minimum of 4.5 million page impressions each month.

It is aiming to make the site one of the five most popular internet sites in New Zealand - a goal that will pit it against major competitors such as Telecom's Xtra, TVNZ's Nzoom, and Wilson & Horton's Herald Online.

Herald Online is believed to have generated more than 7 million page impressions last month, almost two years after its launch.

Wilson & Horton Digital's general manager, Mark Ottaway, said that with INL and Wilson & Horton Media now online, the market would be well served and leave little room for others.

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