Netpulse Is Giving It Away

Surfing the Internet can ward off boredom for people working out on cardio equipment. But if you thought you couldn't wire your cardio machines to the web, this is your lucky day. If you can ensure that 15 to 20 people will use each Internet station daily, Netpulse will deliver and install its Netpulse Z-Series free of charge.

Yes, you read it right. Free of charge.

Sound too good to be true? It's not. Netpulse recently announced that it is switching to an advertising-supported business model to grow the company fast and leverage the multiple revenue streams it has already established from advertising, content sponsorships, e-commerce and subscription fees. "The thing that has limited our rate of penetration is that you have to wait around for clubs' budget cycles," states Thomas Proulx, Netpulse's CEO. "By eliminating that entirely, it's going to boost the rate that we are able to blanket the clubs."

Since 1997, Netpulse has been selling its touch-screen, Internet-access devices, which replace the control panel on exercise bikes, steppers and elliptical motion machines for around $2,500. With this offer, Netpulse plans to take a commanding lead in the market by growing its network by more than 10,000 free Netpulse Z-Series stations this year alone, with the potential to add 5 to 10 million more new consumers to its network footprint.

Consumers spend billions of minutes on exercise machines each year," emphasizes Proulx. "Our portal provides entertainment, information, motivation and multitasking to help make workout time more fun and productive. It also gives sponsors a powerful tool to reach an upscale and captive audience."

While this is a very effective means of advertising, it is also a very expensive one since it is a highly specified captive audience. When users get on a machine with a Netpulse station attached, they log on into a personal account that, based on answers to a demographic survey, delivers highly targeted advertising to the screen while keeping track of workout sessions. Users can surf the web, read e-mail, listen to music, watch television, shop, measure workout results and even earn frequent flier miles while exercising.

More than half of our advertisers have nothing to do with fitness and health," notes Proulx. "They care about the fact that they have an upscale audience."

Some of the advertisers that have run successful ad campaigns, according to Netpulse, are Toyota, Proctor & Gamble, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, iVillage, Web MD, Hyatt and more. "Netpulse provides Toyota with a unique opportunity to target and effectively impact a young, upscale, active-minded and difficult-to-reach audience," comments Jon Bucci, national manager of Interactive Communications at Toyota. "We are very pleased that our results so far have well exceeded our performance benchmarks."

Netpulse plans to invest $100 million over the next three years by providing the devices and wiring clubs with broad-band Internet connections. But don't feel left out if you recently bought Netpulse stations. Netpulse has promised to reimburse clients who have paid for Netpulse stations in the past year.

In the future, this is going to be something that all of the clubs have," states Proulx. "This will be a minimum ante for being in the fitness industry, just as having a web site is a must for being a credible business today.


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