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No. 5 CNET

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CNET was launched in 1992 with a plan for a technology-oriented TV network but eventually found the Web to be its natural home.

Over the years, it has taken much of its ad revenue out of the pockets of traditional information technology magazines. It's no secret that IT marketing has moved to the Web-and that CNET is garnering a large share of it. The company generated $353.0 million in revenue in 2005, up 21% from $291.2 million in 2004.

Because the Internet has been CNET's central business, Ted Smith, senior VP-business, said the company has a greater understanding of how the Web works and what users want from an online experience: "Voice, choice and control in the media-it's literally a matter of getting out of the way."

That especially applies to CNET's b-to-b-focused areas, which include News.com, TechRepublic and ZDNet.

Sun Microsystems, which is a client of media-buying shop Starcom Worldwide, runs contextual ads throughout CNET's b-to-b areas, focusing, for example, on places where servers or business software are covered, said Brandon Starkoff, a global account director at Starcom. Additionally, Sun used ZDNet Power Centers, which offer white papers, case studies, webcasts and resources from sponsors.

"Our biggest program within CNET is the use of Power Centers, which are extremely valuable tools, given the level of tagging and data that CNET is able to provide us," Starkoff said. "CNET is the most robust site that we've worked with in terms of being able to tag their content and [for our clients] being able to leverage that information [in the sales cycle]."

How effective are the Power Centers? Starkoff said his agency has asked other IT Web sites to create similar products.

In the meantime, CNET is not sitting still.

The company is boosting its online video offerings, which grew 100% last year in terms of viewership. In part because of the success of online video, CNET plans to return to its TV roots. Last month it debuted CNET TV, a video-on-demand service that offers CNET video content for distribution on television and online.

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