selling eyeballs

Campus Pipeline’s powerful new software costs you nothing–
nothing but access to your students. Is the price too high?

Campus Pipeline’s powerful new software costs you nothing–
nothing but access to your students. Is the price too high?

1999 may be remembered as the year many universities made their cheapest and most powerful software acquisition ever: a free, personalized intranet that enables campus information systems to interact automatically with students, faculty, and staff. Campus Pipeline, a well-funded start-up intent on grabbing market share as fast as possible, is giving away a Web-based system that automatically reacts to events that even experienced registrars and financial aid officers can miss:

  • The act of registering for a class triggers an e-mail of greeting from the professor. The message contains a reading list and a list of essential research links on the Web, and it signs the student up for an on-line work group.
  • If a student wants to register for a course or section that’s filled, the system auto matically adds him or her to a waiting list. When a seat opens up, the system auto matically notifies the student by sending an e-mail message.
  • If a drop/add changes a student’s bill, the system will notify the student as well as the bursar, who can accept the student’s payment on line.
  • When a student loan is approved, the system e-mails the student and adjusts his or her account balance.
  • Graduates keep their e-mail addresses for life, making them always easy to reach.

On the other hand, 1999 may be come known as the year campuses like yours gave away the store.

Why? In exchange for its new intranet tools, Campus Pipeline wants the right to place discreet advertisements on your administrative pages–the page students use to register for classes, the page they use for their official school e-mail–and to target your students with a vigorous e-commerce and marketing campaign. You get free software. But Campus Pipeline gets access to your students’ eyeballs and keeps all the revenue:

  • Every time a student buys a book, concert ticket, CD, or airline ticket on line, Campus Pipeline–not the university–will get a share of the profits.
  • When students surfing the Web for academic research or career information “click through” an on-line ad, Campus Pipeline gets paid by the advertiser.
  • If a student requests e-mail information on anything from ski conditions to airline specials to the latest poetry books, Campus Pipeline routes the messages and collects a marketing fee.

Whether boon or boondoggle, this new intranet system, set to roll out in September, has made Campus Pipeline an instant player on the information technology scene. Boasting some 400 client schools with more than 2 million students by mid-July, Campus Pipeline has become a vendor to be reckoned with.


Author: Ron Feemster

News Service: University Business


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