Tripod offers cash for popular pages

Builder Bucks will reward subscribers whose pages generate ad views.

In an effort to boost its status among homepage builders, Lycos's Tripod community division will announce a program Monday that allows consumers with popular pages to get a chunk of the ad revenue they generate for the community company.

The Tripod Premier Builders program will pay homepage designers who can generate more than 100 page views a day for their sites. The rates go up with the age views, and Tripod General Manager Don Zereski estimates that some consumers could make as much as $40,000 (£25,000) a year from their sites. "They could make enough to quit their jobs," he said.

Zereski said that of Tripod's four million members, there are probably "tens of thousands of builders who would qualify" for the Builder Bucks program.

Members whose pages generate a 100 ad views per day are paid 50 cents per 1000 ad views, while members whose pages generate at least 1000 ad views per day are paid $1 per 1000 ad views. Members with pages averaging more than 100 page views per day for a full year will receive an annual 20 percent bonus.

He acknowledged that agreeing to split the ad revenues with those builders would cost the company "hundreds of thousands" per quarter, and would not say whether the program would pay for itself through incremental revenue. The goal is to bring in and retain "premier" home page builders -- the ones good at pulling in traffic -- to come to Tripod instead of other free-Web sites, and generate more ad revenue for the company.

To that end, the company is also creating several new features that are designed to help consumers build better home pages. For Premier Builders, the features include the Builder Bucks and unlimited disk space. They will also have the opportunity to place ads anywhere on the page that they want, instead of being of pop-up ads that Tripod normally uses.

Premier Builders pages must generate 100 views per day, be over 13 and US residents, and create an English language page that meets the "quality" standards of Tripod. "Like any other business probably even more so in that most of their traffic will come from a few really popular sites," said Barry Parr, analyst at IDC. "The advantage is that people will be a lot more open or willing to put advertising on their pages and figure out new ways to do it. And they'll be able to attract people who are building sites that like on their competitors (networks), and those people will have a vested interest in staying."

All Tripod users will be able to take advantage of the other new features, which include a simplified domain structure, a CGI and JavaScript library, and the ability to use custom CGI and Perl scripts.

"Those features are typically found on for-pay hosting sites to build more interesting and premier pages," Zereski said.