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This story appears in the December 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Cyberspace keeps getting more crowded: By the end of 1997, a staggering 82 million PCs will be hooked up to the Internet, according to survey data compiled by research firm Dataquest. What's more, Dataquest predicts 268 million computers will be on the Net by 2001.

With numbers like that, advertisers are flocking to the Web. At what cost? Less than you might think. The cost per thousand viewers for putting an ad on a site averaged $39.35 during September, according to Focalink, a Palo Alto, California, provider of Web advertising solutions and software. Focalink reports the big winners in the ad derby are music-oriented sites, which charge premium rates. Gaining ground are sites filled with classified ads, which are often ranked among the Web's top sites.

To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site athttp://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey/.

On The Move

Just how do Webmasters put those eye-catching tickertape-style blocks of text on their Web sites? The answer used to be with treacherously difficult codes, but Lotus' BeanMachine program changes that. Tickertapes and even fancier java applets (with animated icons and audio features) are a few mouse clicks away for users of BeanMachine (about $150). The program is so easy to use, you may have to fight the temptation to fill your entire site with java applets. BeanMachine is one of the most useful tools around for adding a bit of java sparkle to any site. Visit http://www.lotus.com for details.

Page Turner

Just now released in polished form, Microsoft's FrontPage '98 has emerged as the definitive Web-authoring and management program for the technically challenged. While FrontPage '97 was highly usable software, the latest version represents a dramatic improvement. No fancy coding is required, but a FrontPage '98 user can still dress up Web pages with everything from hit counters to custom-made buttons that help users navigate a complex site. A big plus for noncreative users: The program includes 50 "themes"--coordinated kits of elements (buttons, bullets, page backgrounds, lines and so on). Whether you've built dozens of Web sites or you're about to create your first, FrontPage '98--about $149--belongs in your tool kit.

Support Group

Does your business need a Web site? Don't guess--take the 20-question test offered by Nua's Website Planner (http://www.nua.ie/wp ) instead. The survey can be filled out in five minutes, and the verdict from Nua, a Dublin, Ireland-based Web site developer, is instantaneous. Sample questions: "Do you sell travel- or tourism-related products or services? Do you sell products or services that require a lot of education and backup information to sell?" And, no, the survey isn't rigged. Some businesses still don't need Web sites, and Nua will tell you if yours is one of them.

E-mail Unplugged

The road warrior's digital dream is e-mail that's accessible anywhere, any time, without a telephone line. That dream recently became a reality with San Luis Obispo, California, Wynd Communications' (http://www.wynd.com ) WyndMail. This wireless service lets users send and receive e-mail without a phone line. Prerequisites include a laptop or a personal digital assistant (such as Apple's Newton), and a wireless modem (available for purchase at $499 or rental at $39.95 per month). WyndMail isn't cheap--the basic monthly fee is $29.95 for 200 incoming or outgoing messages; additional messages cost 5 cents each. Another minus: The service works only in metropolitan areas of the United States. (The rest of the country isn't in the wireless network; in dead zones and abroad, WyndMail can be accessed by dial-up connection.) But in most metro areas, WyndMail users can fetch their e-mail while stuck in traffic jams, at fast-food restaurants, and from hotels with balky dial tones that conventional modems won't recognize.

Contact Source

Focalink, (800) 286-6778, http://www.focalink.com

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