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Avaya, IDG team up to engage CIOs in video debates

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Last month, enterprise telecommunications company Avaya Inc. launched its largest custom media program to date with IDG Enterprise, the b-to-b focused division of IDG that includes such brands as CIO, Computerworld, CSO, Network World, Infoworld and IT World.

The custom project spans multiple platforms—online, Web video, downloadable research, a podcast and social networking—that come together at a single custom website, http://www.cio.com/debate, that claims to be “The premier thought leadership forum for today's global IT executive.” A series of a dozen executive dinners being held around the country is also integrated into the program.

The centerpiece of the custom microsite is a series of video debates featuring thought leaders in the CIO community speaking on topics including innovation, business collaboration and customer service. There are currently six episodes planned for the series, which debuted Oct. 4, with a new debate being added each month through March.

“We felt a forum would be the right vehicle for delivering peer-to-peer information CIOs might not be able to get in other ways,” said Laura Misdom, director of global brand management at Avaya.

Several elements of the website are comparable to an editorial sponsorship. For example, the IDG Enterprise custom content team chose the CIOs featured in the debates and put together a research package, including findings from the “State of the CIO Report, 2010,” study conducted by CIO and a podcast based on research among members of the CIO Executive Council. In separate, clearly marked sections of the microsite, there are an Avaya Resource Center and a series of videos in which Avaya executives talk about the company's experiences and views.

“The beauty of online is that you're able to have editorial content, user content and vendor content all living within one environment,” said Michael Friedenberg, president-CEO of IDG Enterprise.

“As media is evolving so rapidly, we're looking for new ways to engage our target audience,” Misdom said. To make viewers feel like they are being engaged one-to-one in the video debates, for example, all the speakers are silhouetted against a white background, to keep the viewer focused on their facial expressions and body language.

While social media functions, such as commenting, sharing and the Facebook “like” button, are already available, IDG and Avaya are planning to go beyond those tools to manage social media more actively. Noting that CIOs are currently using blogs and other forums on the Web to discuss these topics, Misdom said, “We want to gather those audiences and bring them to the conversation we're having on the CIO Debate site, as well as soliciting other topics that interest them in order to engage them more.”

While neither Avaya nor IDG wanted to get into specifics on metrics, Misdom said, “We're looking at measuring traditional online metrics, like unique visitors and time spent. As the program goes on, we're making sure people come back each month for new content and perspective.”

Misdom and Friedenberg also said the program has exceeded their companies' respective expectations in the month since ins introduction.

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