ALMA´S E-CLASSIFIEDS SITE DIME UTILIZES NETSAGE TECHNOLOGY IN CHARACTER BASED SALES ASSISTANT Finland´s leading Internet content producer Alma Media Corporation has made a strategic investment in Netsage Corporation in Silicon Valley, California. Alma Media and Netsage also agreed to build a character based virtual sales assistant for DIME, Alma´s e-classifieds site. The investment in Netsage is one million dollars. According to Alma Media´s president and CEO Matti Packalén the investment and joint project on sales assitant significantly strenghten Alma´s lead as a provider for easy-to-use web services and content. - The sales assistant repsesents automatized customer service. The assistant gives web use a more human touch, strenghtens brand image and enhances trust into the service provided. These kind of services have been utilized with success abroad. DIME ( is Alma Media´s e-classifieds site. It´s flagship is apartment sales with 80% coverage of all apartments for sale in Finland. Director of Marketing Petri Pekki states the contract with Netsage is part of a larger development project which aims at possible internationalization of DIME´s next generation products and technology concepts. The next generation DIME will also include SMS and WAP services. The virtual sales assistant will make DIME services easier to use and enhance probability for the customers to find an apartment they like in DIME database. Pekki says the cooperation with Netsage further gives DIME the leading edge in Finland in e-classifieds and also supports possible internationalization efforts. Netsage Corporation is a two year old San Francisco and Colorado based software company. Its main products are animated and voice based sales assistants for ecommerce, automatized customer service systems and computer aided instruction products. Netsage´s products can be seen on millions of desktops in the form of Microsoft Office advisor agents. Netsage also has built sales assistants for major computer companies, a voice based virtual secretary for General Magic and a virtual investment advisor for Charles Schwab. Alma Media´s Director of Research Timo Saari says Netsage products are based on over ten years of scientific research by Stanford University professors Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass. - The research results show for instance that people are polite to computers, attach personality to them and in general relate to computers and their services as if interacting with another human being. These rules enable building of new types of software which are called socially intelligent based on their capability to emulate the rules of human-human interaction in human-computer interaction. From the user´s point of view this can be felt as a more pleasant user experience which also results in positive attitudes towards the service being used. Harvard University research has shown that at their best animated sales assistants have increased purchase likelihood up to 49% and repurchase likelihood 67% when compared with the same service with no sales assistant. A personalized and tailored version of a sales assistant increased purchase likelihood 50% and repurchase likelihood up to 120%. Alma Media has earlier researched media consumption and social- emotional interfaces in cooperation with Stanford University. For further information, please contact: Director of Marketing, Petri Pekki, Alma Media Net Ventures Corporation, p. 0400-768 801 Director of Research, Timo Saari, Alma Media Corporation, p. 0500-735 232 Information on Netsage Corporation: Distribution: Key media, Helsinki Stock Exchange
  • Date: 10.2.2000, 08:00
  • News type: Press release

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