BtoB

About.com, Entrepreneur.com roll out b-to-b extensions

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Last week saw two more examples of media companies adding business tools to help grow their online communities—and attract new advertisers.

About.com, owned by the New York Times Co., rolled out onlineadvertising.about.com , a so-called “guidesite” that provides users with an overview of the fundamentals of online advertising. Among the topics covered: choosing an agency partner, behavioral targeting of online ads and finding a job in online advertising. The site also provides an overview of buying online media, becoming an online marketer, and measurement and delivery.

In a similar move, Entrepreneur.com introduced Entrepreneur Assist (http://assist.entrepreneur.com), a suite of online productivity tools. These tools include word processing; spreadsheet and presentation programs; business plan templates; customizable business forms; and a library of downloadable business books.

Jeffrey Dearth, a partner in media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, called both moves “offensive and defensive” considering a media environment in constant flux.

“Media companies are becoming more technologically aware and are helping clients with convergence, but they’re not becoming technology companies,” he said.

Dearth added that “there’s a big technology component for all media companies to recognize. Instead of having their users go to an online conference [or another source] for tools and training they’re saying, ‘We need to provide the elements to help them go to market.’ ”

Executives at About.com and Entrepreneur.com said the new sites were natural extensions of their online mission.

Onlineadvertising.about.com, part of About.com’s Business & Finance channel, joins other b-to-b-related destinations on About.com, such as those focused on business insurance, business security and logistics/supply chain. About.com has a total of about 600 such guides.

“Being in the b-to-b space, we felt there was a huge opportunity to launch an ad site,” said Scott Meyer, president-CEO of About.com, which draws about 34 million monthly visitors in the U.S. “It’s a free resource that people can rely on outside of their regular [advertising] training. And as the online ad industry gets more sophisticated, it’s good for all of us who are in the business.”

Meyer added: “It’s very interactive and gives us a chance to create a community about the online ad business where people can exchange ideas.”

Entrepreneur Assist is an outgrowth of the various business forms Entrepreneur.com has been offering online for the last several years, said Dave Pomije, VP-site development at Entrepreneur.com, which draws 6 million monthly visitors globally.

“It made sense to couple the business forms with these new tools,” he said. “It’s another way for us to capture SMB owners and entrepreneurs in the course of their workday, whether they’re creating an invoice or putting together a new business plan.”

Both Meyer and Pomije stressed that any new online services media companies add should not stray too far from the core business.

“We’re not getting bogged down in services that don’t have anything to do with our market,” Pomije said. “But in order to stay competitive, all publishers need to think about going beyond the static article.”

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