Walking a Path to the Internet
How it works
Bacopulos realized that before launching LinkPath (it went live in Feb. 2000), he needed to build a technological infrastructure that would be robust, scalable—giving the service room to grow—and reliable. They selected four technologies to create the framework: a Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise database, a PHP3 Middleware engine, an Apache server and Red Hat's Linux operating system. The site also supports voice-activation functionality, so that a user could conceivably do away with keying altogether.
From the consumer's perspective, LinkPath acts like a portal. A man sees an ad for a new electronic gadget he craves, so he simply launches his browser, calls up his bookmarked LinkPath URL, enters a simple code that appears on an ad (which could also appear on billboards, point-of-purchase displays, promo pieces, reprints, packaging, etc.), and LinkPath leads the gadget-loving guy directly to the manufacturer's Web page.
But how does keying in a code differ from keying in a URL? Canadian Yachting magazine, for example, is designated with a two letter code: CY. Its LinkPath ads and editorial are then assigned a number. The cover-two ad might be deemed CY1. Rather than remembering a plethora of URLs, the consumer only needs to remember one—www.linkpath .com—along with a simple code. And there's no additional searching through the advertiser's Web site. The link is precise.
Also through LinkPath, a woman who wants to request product specs on the new CPU she's been eyeing, can request a mailing, and her data is uploaded directly to the advertiser's own information request table.
As a value-added service, LinkPath allows its members to generate pertinent usage reports. And publishers can automate subscription requests and reader-service-card generation. "We really embraced LinkPath—and not just because I helped in its creation. Since we've implemented it, we've been able to cut out all of our reader service cards, and we saved a lot of money by doing away with those printing costs," Kerr asserts.