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Marketing Communications for Emerging Technologies

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Pipeline - an online service from PSINet

Virtual Neighborhoods | Riding the Information Highway

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In early summer, 1995, Poppe Tyson (part of BSMG) hired Jon Boroshok to help their newest account, PSINet, launch Pipeline, an innovative new Internet/online service for the general consumer marketplace. The pricing structure was what differentiated Pipeline from other online services and ISPs. In the days before AT&T launched WorldNet, Pipeline was the only service offering a flat rate of $19.95 per month.

During Jon's tenure on the account, Pipeline offered many industry firsts, including:

Part of Jon's job was to help introduce Pipeline to consumer media that normally wouldn't cover online services (except for AOL). The efforts had great deal of success, including participation in a January, 1996 USA Today Computer Hotline.

As part of their attempt to compete with the AOLs of the world, Pipeline also began to develop exclusive local content, including the Virtual Neighborhoods program.

The Virtual Neighborhoods program was started in several test markets, with New York leading the way. Pipeline NY subscribers could take courses online, order food via their computers, and receive special museum previews and discounts.

Pipeline also tried new ways to create content that users could participate in online. There were exclusive Pipeline newsgroups, Internet sites organized by topic, and fun promotions, like Roadsigns, where Pipeline subscribers got to "ride shotgun" on a drive across the USA.

PSINet/Pipeline was also one of the first ISPs to become involved in online banking. In early 1996, Pipeline teamed up with Security First Network Bank, FSB, the world's first full-service Internet bank, and announced an alliance to offer Internet banking to Pipeline's U.S. customers.

As Pipeline's success was noticed by the media, it was also noticed by many competitors. AT&T launched WorldNet, offering a flat rate national service. Other competitors developed their own local content, as did Yahoo and several Web sites. Eventually, AOL entered the pricing game and matched Pipeline's $19.95 per month flat rate.

In the late Spring of 1996, PSINet made the strategic decision to pull out of the consumer Internet marketplace, focusing their attention on corporate accounts. Pipeline was sold to MindSpring, a large regional ISP in Atlanta.

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