AOL and Visa in $1M Marketing Giveaway

A six-year subscriber of America Online (NYSE: AOL) has won $1 million (US$) in a marketing giveaway by the Virginia-based powerhouse and credit card giant Visa U.S.A.

Franza Giffen Newsom, of the San Francisco, California area, was chosen at random after signing up with AOL’s Quick Checkout feature on its Shop@AOL e-commerce platform. The feature is a payment solution that allows consumers to pre-enter data once to avoid re-entry for additional transactions.

AOL said that the prize, which is believed to be the largest e-commerce-related prize awarded to date, was well worth the price.

“We’re thrilled with the tremendous success of the sweepstakes, which resulted in a record number of Quick Checkout registrations during the promotion,” said AOL Vice President of E-Commerce Patrick Gates. “Online shopping sales by AOL members surged to over $2.5 billion this holiday season, and we were able to leverage the popularity of online shopping by highlighting the ease and convenience of Shop@AOL’s Quick Checkout.”

The Winner’s Podium

Giffen Newsom becomes the latest American to become the recipient of a million dollar bonanza, as millionaire fever sweeps the nation like the hula hoop craze of the 50s.

“I never expected to win one million dollars, and it was a surprise to win it by shopping online,” Newsom said in a statement issued by AOL.

Visa is also feeling flush after the promotion, reporting that 70 percent of the new Quick Checkout registrations were made with its cards. Visa has some 330 million credit, commercial and check cards in circulation in the United States.

The credit giant also said that its cards remain the safest way to pay for goods and services on the Internet, reporting that overall card losses dropped to 0.06 percent, or six cents for every $100, in 1999. That figure is down from the rate of 0.07 percent in 1998 and a whopping 0.18 percent in 1992.

Big Bucks at Play

AOL’s million dollar sweepstakes is not the only big giveaway making headlines these days. Search engine portal iWon.com has been trying to attract customers from Yahoo! and other search engines by giving away $10,000 per day, $1 million monthly and $10 million per year.

The company has been running a major television advertising campaign, asking the simple question: “Why wouldn’t you?”

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