Companies sign up for mypoints The latest "internet reward programme" from the US ­ MyPoints ­ went live in the UK last week. A joint venture between and Great Universal Stores, the idea behind it is to develop internet direct marketing and loyalty programmes for companies across Europe. It has been developed over the past five years with an investment of $50m. Over 50 companies have signed up to the service, including Marks & Spencer, Woolworths, Virgin, Pizza Hut, Dixons, British Midland and Eurostar. David Brosse, marketing director of MyPoints Europe, says: "MyPoints offers direct marketers an approach to internet advertising that integrates targered email and personalised web based offers with incentives to respond to those offers." Consumers registering with the service earn points by clicking on ads online, by responding to email offers, by taking part in surveys, by taking up a trial offer and when they buy something. The points can then be redeemed for a variety of products and services ­ such as theatre tokens and gift vouchers ­ provided by the partner companies. Brosse says: "This gives companies the ability to extend and enhance their direct marketing, all with the consumer's permission, and to achieve response rates and a return on investment higher than the industry norm." He says that typical response rates to banner ads is 0.5% and response to email is 5% ­ but in the United States the response rate is up to 15% for incentivised banners and e-mails though MyPoints. In the US it is also run as a "clicks and mortar" programme as there is the opportunity to earn points offline by using their credit cards in affiliated restaurants across the US. Brosse says the European scheme aims to sign up 500,000 people in the first 12 months. In the US the scheme has clocked up 15 million members since it launched in 1996. {{COVER FEATURE }}