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Issue 2001-7 Friday, April 13, 2001

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  Is Lemoneymag.fr a bridgehead for French banking group BNP Paribas on the Internet? Here is an exclusive analysis from eMarket and BVA TFC Research

Is Lemoneymag.fr a bridgehead for French banking group BNP Paribas on the Internet?

Are free eNewsletters good business drivers?


Launched as soon as September 2000, LeMoneyMag.fr is an information Web site dedicated to individual finance, which is produced by banking group BNP Paribas.

The site aims at becoming a very practical guide designed to appeal to a wide audience. Its project is well summarized in its baseline "Everything there is to know about the cost of living".

Logically, the site organised itself around the biggest themes that punctuate our contemporaries' lives: housing, leisure, health, car industry, etc…This thematic list reminds us of the list of banking products offered by all the banks that benefit from a large audience, such as BNP for instance.


The fact that the BNP Paribas brand can be seen on the site, even though it leaves no doubt to its visitors, remains rather discreet as far as its editorial content and interactive services (the site is a real paradise for all pocket calculators' fans) are concerned.

As a result, it still seems a bit tricky to try and distinguish clearly the strategy used by banking group BNP Paribas as regards to the site LeMoneyMag.fr.

On the one hand, we see an obvious desire to invest in new marketing prospects as they chose to create a new brand from scratch, and this brand proves very Internet-oriented (with an English name that smacks of the same brainstorming that could be seen everywhere before the eCrash, when people used to adopt a name and positioning that proved efficient on a world-wide scale), but we also notice that the site keeps a great part of autonomy, as it can create traffic partnerships and become independent.

From this point of view, LeMoneyMag.fr positions itself as a spin-off, without any real link with the bank's main activity, as it has its own business model (sale of advertising spaces) and its own logic of self-profitability.

At the same time, BNP probably noticed that this guide market for individual finance already counted many direct competitors such as patrimoine.com, for instance, as well as indirect but very powerful competitors (Boursorama and its trading information section, for instance). In order to develop this type of business, specific skills are required, as well as a given economic logic, a very long term investment that might not prove quite as compatible as before with the biggest banks' way of thinking in these times of after ecrash.

As a consequence, banking group BNP Paribas decided to refocus the site on a direct marketing logic, as LeMoneyMag mainly tries to bring virtual business to the bank through the skills that are to be found in its Internet users database (simulation of answers, newsletter subscribers, etc...)

We should find out in the next few months which of these two options the bank will choose when the time comes to invest money in terms of marketing and communication, in order to allow the site to remain among the leading information sites dedicated to individual finance.

Considering how original this approach proves to be, as this is a unique phenomenon in the French banking landscape, I thought it might prove interesting to analyse the positioning of LeMoneyMag Web site.

In order to do so, I based myself on the exclusive figures provided by BVA TFC Research, the subsidiary that created jointly between the Institute BVA and eMarket Strategies and that constituted the first behavioural panel on the French Internet market with over 18.000 users who access the Internet both from work and from home.

The analysed period stretches over the 1st to the 10th April 2001.

If we have a look at what interested Internet users who visited LeMoneyMag Web site over this period, beyond the 4 classic centres of interest such as access providers, lottery Web sites, general-interest portals and community sites, we notice that banking sites arrive in tenth position as they get 1.97% of the visits (percentage calculated on the basis of the first 15 centres of interest).

Within the banking sector, Credit Agricole Web site arrives first with 32.39 percent of the visits (percentage calculated on the basis of the five leading banking sites), followed by BNP (27.60 percent of the visits) and Caisse d'Epargne (18.28 percent of the visits).

When we think about it, this ranking is hardly surprising: Credit Agricole Web site also happens to be the leading French banking site as far as its visitor coverage rate is concerned (it reaches 6.56 percent, all categories of visitors included).

Even for users who visit LeMoneyMag Web site, the advantage held by the leader still is of great consequence.

In any way, this proves that on the Internet, even more than on any other distribution channel, no bank owns its clients or its traffic.

There sure is a "LeMoneyMag effect" for banking group BNP, as its site arrives in second position in terms of number of visits that come from the site's visitors, but when we take into account the banking sites classification, all categories of users included, BNP Web site is outdistanced by Caisse d'Epargne.

If we try to analyse the site's positioning and compare it to all other Web sites, we reach very interesting conclusions.

This is how, among the major tributary Web sites that have an influence on LeMoneyMag, we naturally get the main prescriber sites that benefit from a large audience. This is the case for Wanadoo.fr, for instance, with a tributary rate of 9.02 percent, (this rate measures the importance of the stream of visits generated by LeMoneyMag Web site on the sites upstream from it, distant from one rank or more, in the users' surf sessions) or sites on which LeMoneyMag did good financial operations such as Lotree for instance.

Then comes aufeminin.com, with a tributary rate of 1.65 percent. We often come across this Web site in our analyses, which tends to prove that this Web site really manages to generate traffic towards its partners.

LeFigaro.fr gets a tributary rate of 0.51%, which might come as a surprise, but we understand better when we know that LeFigaro is one of LeMoneyMag's partners; it also provides LeMoneyMag Web site with a calculator for one of its sections.

If we have a look at the other "side", that's to say at what happens when visitors leave LeMoneyMag Web site, we notice that these users are more inclined to visit banking sites.

As could be expected, Credit Agricole Web site gets the higher downstream rate of all banking sites: 1.47 percent (the downstream rate measures the importance of the stream of visits generated by LeMoneyMag on sites downstream from it, distant from one rank or more, in the users' surf sessions).

But the tributary rate does not exceed 0.34 percent for Crédit Agricole. This tends to indicate that users pay a little visit to LeMoneyMag before they visit banking sites. This corresponds to a rather natural procedure that we already noticed in other sectors such as the eFinance one (with the online broking sites, for instance).

As for the positioning chosen by LeMoneyMag Web site, it contains many differences.

Users who visited the site at the beginning of April seem to have been very faithful as only 2.34 percent also visited Squarefinance.com, 12.57 percent visited Boursorama and 3.22 percent visited Yahoo! Finance section, etc…

But at the same time, LeMoneyMag still strains to customize visitors.

This is how only 39.22 percent of the users who visited the site in February came back on the site the following month.

The ratio, that would be quite good for an eCommerce Web site, shows that a site such as LeMoneyMag needs to have a great progression margin to better customize its visitors.

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   Are free eNewsletters good business drivers?  

A recent study conducted in the United-States by the market research company Clientize just found out that 207 of the top 500 American magazines offered free eNewsletters.

The 44 publishers who participated in the survey all agreed to say that newsletters were a good and sometimes even an excellent way to deliver traffic to a Web site.

On the other hand, only 21 percent consider that newsletters are a good way to generate additional revenues.

Indeed, if 46 percent think newsletters are a good way to generate a complementary source of income, 34 percent think that its abilities to generate additional revenue are rather poor.

To get additional sources of revenue for these eNewsletters, Web sites can either:

  • Rent their e-mail databases.

  • Display advertising.

To that matter, a third of the sites that participated in the survey said they rent their email databases and another third indicated that it only shares its bases with advertisers.

Nearly 70% of these sites reserve the right to send advertising messages in addition to their newsletters and only 31% indicated they did not take the liberty to send this type of message.

Nearly all the respondents said they accept to display advertising on their sites but also inside their newsletters.

As far as how efficient type of support proves to be, opinions differ:

  • A third of the sites said they get ad clickthrough rates of five percent or more.

  • 9 percent boasted they get ad clickthrough rates higher than 20%.

  • And finally, nearly half of them report they get ad clickthrough rates smaller than 5%.

When we know that many editorial Web sites no longer manage to sell most of their advertising space, and that one ad banner out of three corresponds to self-promotion, we understand better why some of them feel bitter about the business efficiency of a newsletter.

Times have become hard and every week brings us new waves of redundancies, as companies reduce their staff by 10 or 20 percent in the online publishing sector and this happens on a worldwide scale.

But I also think that too many editorial Web sites of average quality coexist on the Internet, which leads to a characterized absence of differentiation of the news.

It is easy to understand that Internet users might get tired of reading the same press release over and over again as most Web sites just copy and paste them without any specific added value, and this prompts users to turn their backs on editorial web sites.

In the meantime, I wish to put your mind at ease: not only can I guarantee that you will not see any ad banners or special advertising sections on eMarketnews Web site, but what's more, I will never sell, rent or exchange any confidential data about you (see my privacy pledge to that matter).


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