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Online Means Business Too

Dec 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The growth of new media is having a big impact on business-to-business marketing, just as it is affecting consumer advertising.
Ad buyer Universal McCann recently released a study looking at how business executives use new media. The area has not been studied nearly as closely as has consumer new media use.
“It’s been ignored from a couple of different perspectives,” said Stacy Malone, VP and interactive media director for Universal McCann. Business-to-business is a lower priority for most ad agencies, unless they have a major B-to-B account, and most publishers have not been aggressive in embracing new content-distribution models and creating new media ad opportunities, she said.
“It’s really frustrating in a lot of ways because if you look at the more technical B-to-B audiences, they’re early adopters, so they’re probably the ones who are driving lot of this consumption on the consumer side,” Ms. Malone said. “But when you talk to your clients or publishers, no one had any data that actually showed that that was the case, that these folks were embracing it, especially with business decision-makers.”
Ms. Malone said Universal McCann set out to find some hard data to show what’s going on in the business-to-business space and found some interesting trends.
“We’re seeing certain types of emerging media are being adopted earlier than others and it’s probably following a slightly different adoption path than the consumer space,” she said. “Things like blogs and podcasts are absolutely being used by the B-to-B audience for content for their jobs, not just on a personal level. But then things like social networks maybe are having a little bit slower adoption.”
The report found that 63 percent of the business people surveyed use online video at least once a week, while another 27 percent use video once a month. The report concluded that the 10 percent who never use online video at work might be having trouble finding relevant content because video search is not well developed.
Most of the business users—about 63 percent—said they access video for business or technology information, and 78 percent said video makes online content more compelling.
Business users are also passing videos along to co-workers and colleagues.
While consumers—particularly young consumers—have embraced social networking via MySpace or Facebook, business users haven’t logged on. About 77 percent of respondents said they had little to no experience with online communities. Awareness is growing and more business-oriented networks, such as Linkedin, are seeing some success. This, according to the Universal McCann report, “indicates a push to address the B2B market’s need for a community that promotes more knowledge sharing and collaboration as opposed to one offering yet another portal for job searches.”
On the other hand, Wikis—user-generated reference sites—have become popular with technology buyers, though concerns exist about the quality of the information on Wikis. While tech buyers go to Wikis to see information, only about 6 percent of those surveyed have contributed to the sites, according to Universal McCann’s study. “Skepticism still exists among this group as they struggle not only with the collaborative efforts that generate content, but also with the long-term quality of such a fast-growing bank of information,” the report said.
Some people might have thought that business people are too busy to be spending time with online video or podcasts.
Thanks to the research, the agency found that “these guys don’t have much time in general, but what we’re seeing is they are making time to embrace content.” It wasn’t clear whether or not business people were dropping other activities to spend time online. “We really weren’t really looking if this media usage was actually replacing something else. It is an interesting discussion,” she said.
While Universal McCann’s data indicate that there’s probably a market in B-to-B new media, traditional publishers have been slow to move onto the information superhighway.
“I think a lot of the core B-to-B publishers come from more of a print heritage, so it’s a little bit more of a slower process for them to embrace different content distribution models, so we’re seeing them start to do that and we’re seeing them starting to incorporate advertising opportunities into those,” Ms. Malone said. Many early online products were launched with content only, and no advertising availabilities.
“I know for our advertisers we were actually negotiating ad opportunities in things that they weren’t even using as content distribution,” she said. “So maybe they had never done a podcast, but they created one so we could test it for marketing.”
This year, more advertising opportunities are emerging but not all of them are scalable. That means whole campaigns can’t be run in new media. But smart marketers are getting out and doing some testing while new media is still relatively small, she said: “It’s relatively cheap to do testing in emerging media right now, which is a good thing for advertisers.”
The Universal McCann study was conducted by KnowledgeStorm in October and comprised 5,300 participants who were business and information technology professionals. According to the report, 45 percent of the respondents were involved with their company’s technology at a strategic level; 55 percent were engaged in implementation or day-to-day management; 42 percent are relied upon by 10 or more people within their organization for IT research and expertise; and 28 percent have major influence on IT purchasing or actually authorize purchases.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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