A One-Stop Information Resource with Expert Commentary and Virtual Community Poised to Become City's Largest Online Site with a Built-in Audience of 1 Million NY AOL Members & Millions More on the Web

January 29, 1998

Launches with Customized Campaigns for Well-Known National and Local Advertisers including American Express, Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdale's, Omnipoint and Universal Pictures New York, NY, January 29, 1998 - AOL Studios, the world's leading developer of original community-based content for the interactive medium, today announced the launch of Digital City New York, an interactive online city site with expert opinion and a virtual neighborhood available on both the Web at newyork.digitalcity.com, and AOL through the Local Channel on America Online and at AOL Keyword: New York. AOL's established New York City membership gives Digital City an immediate and significant presence in New York. Additional distribution on the Web, on AOL.com and AOL Netfind further makes Digital City New York available to virtually all New Yorkers online and millions of tourists. The newest of 32 Digital City sites nationwide, Digital City New York kicks off Digital City, Inc.'s roll-out of its 2.0 version, and marks the first time that a Digital City site will be launched simultaneously on the Web and AOL. The 2.0 version will provide a significant upgrade including additional ease-of-use, enhanced member interactivity and community through the launch of the Digital City Virtual Neighborhood which will include free home pages, online clubs, email lists and local hosts. Digital City is the largest local online service with over 3 million households already accessing Digital City sites each month. Since the 2.0 version will make Digital City available to both AOL members and Web surfers, there is the potential of bringing millions more to the site. Digital City New York is a one-stop local guide, a virtual neighborhood, filled with content from prominent New York media partners and expert commentary by famous New Yorkers. A local guide, Digital City New York has seven departments ranging from News and Sports to Movies, Dining and Citywise, a source for urban survival tools, and provides information and commentary on everything from local events, school board elections, subway maps to street fairs. And, it is a virtual NY neighborhood, providing a unique, local forum for Web users and AOL's 1 million NY members to meet and interact online. Content partnerships have also been struck with trusted local media brands including NY1, Playbill, Regional News Network (RNN), WB11/WPIX, and WFAN Sports Radio for the latest news and information. The site includes well-known contributors such as the playwright Wendy Wasserstein and the journalist Pete Hamill bringing Digital City New York members the best of New York. "Digital City New York will redefine the local online category," said Ted Leonsis, President and CEO of AOL Studios. "Combining the best of New York's resources with expert commentary on top of an unparalleled interactive community, New Yorkers will make Digital City New York quite literally their new online home. Also, with our 1 million AOL New York-area members one click away and access to a whole new Web audience - we can't miss. We are going to be New York's number one site." Digital City New York: A One-Stop Local Resource and Virtual Community Digital City New York is a comprehensive online city guide bringing together information with a vibrant online community. It is a one-stop local source that lets residents from all five boroughs and visitors alike take advantage of all the city has to offer with information and commentary on everything from restaurants, theaters and movies to an Event of the Day and a member-generated list of top 10 events taking place in New York. Digital City New York contains more than 22,000 local things to do, a City Guide with 4,000 stores and services, hundreds of movie theater listings and a dining guide with more than 1,900 restaurants. "In producing Digital City New York, we've drawn on our experience in other markets and some of the best programming talent in the business -- the result is a site that gives people the information they need and the interaction they want bringing them into the life of their city," said Director of Digital City John Borthwick who oversaw the development of Digital City New York and is project leader of the team that will rollout Digital City 2.0 across the country over the next year. "Upon this foundation, we have built the virtual community." Digital City New York is also a community for New Yorkers online, including AOL's 1 million NY members. The site brings New Yorkers further into the life of their city through innovative community-building areas that provide a number of ways for people with shared interests to meet and interact online. For example, the site features "virtual neighborhoods," where neighbors can browse Web pages of other Digital City inhabitants to find like-minded members, join their clubs, start-up clubs or simply chat. "What's compelling about the new Digital City is that it takes the thriving community of participation found on the Internet -- and on AOL in particular -- and applies it at a local level. Fundamentally, we are providing people a platform to communicate and relate to one another. Our market research demonstrates that people who tested our virtual neighborhoods were particularly excited about the prospect of 'linking virtual life to real life.' For instance, if you meet someone online who also likes to rollerblade, imagine finding out they live five blocks away in the same city - we want to extend the online community, off-line," added Borthwick. Prominent NY Media Partners and Quintessential NY Contributors Digital City New York is built by New Yorkers for New Yorkers. Digital City New York has agreements with credible city sources including: NY1, Playbill, Regional News Network (RNN), WABC-TV, WB11/WPIX and WFAN Sports Radio to give consumers comprehensive city-specific information. Digital City New York also features original editorial content by quintessential New Yorkers such as playwright Wendy Wasserstein, author and journalist Pete Hamill, and monologist Spalding Gray. "We set out to build a site that has the flavor of New York and raises the bar editorially. Between the extensive resources found in the site and the virtual community, we offer expert opinion by New Yorkers for New Yorkers. Like Pete Hamill's original column chronicling, with his unique perspective, life in the city. It's this combination of information, community and editorial that will set Digital City New York apart," explained John Borthwick. Major Advertisers for Digital City New York and Digital City Network Digital City New York allows advertisers to reach NY-based AOL and Web users with one media buy. In addition to city-specific buys, the Digital City network of cities, which already has thousands of national and local advertisers, affords advertisers the opportunity to tailor national and regional campaigns. Digital City New York will launch with a strong national and local complement of leading advertisers, such as Acura, American Express, Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdale's, Geico Direct Auto Insurance, New York Delivery.com, N2K's Music Boulevard, Omnipoint, Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures, and USA Free just to name a few. These advertisers are taking advantage of Digital City New York's marketing power and reach through customized campaigns including banners, buttons and sponsorships. "Digital City is an advertiser's dream. You get great AOL demographics on the local level and can reach AOL users and Web users with one local, regional or national buy -- if you're a direct advertiser or marketer looking to reach a targeted audience, Digital City New York is made to order," said Paul DeBenedictis, President and CEO of Digital City, Inc. "We've got 1 million New Yorkers one click away, not to mention Web users and with these numbers, Digital City New York gives local advertisers their first opportunity to make a viable media buy that will deliver results." "Overseeing all the advertising possibilities, as well as marketing, sales and programming operations, we are excited to have Jim Riesenbach, veteran online businessman, joining Digital City New York as our General Manager," added DeBenedictis. Digital City is also a key distribution vehicle for AOL Studios' brands and increases the advertising potential of these brands by offering them a local play. For instance, such popular AOL Studios' sites as Real Fans, Electra and Entertainment Asylum have local outlets for their content, a key factor for advertisers and marketers looking to reach target markets on both a national and local level. Additionally, these great national brands from AOL Studios will create specialized local content for all the Digital City sites.

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