The survey of more than 5,300 technology and other b-to-b buyers was conducted by KnowledgeStorm, a white paper/research search and distribution vendor, and ad agency Universal McCann. BtoB had exclusive access to the results, including earlier surveys on podcasting and blogging/RSS. All three surveys were among the first to look at the impact of new media and Web 2.0 technology specifically on the b-to-b market.
"The takeaway of all of these surveys is that we are really in stage two of the opportunity for online marketing and advertising," said Matt Lohman, KnowledgeStorm's director of market research. "There is a whole wave of opportunity to extend marketing campaigns and programs via things like blogs, podcasts and various video formats. The sky's the limit in terms of the ways to be effective on the Internet and really measure results. This stuff is not a fad that's going away."
Of the three topics explored in the latest survey, video is making the broadest impact today. More than 63% of respondents access video at least weekly, while the same percentage said they access video primarily for business and technology information?not entertainment. Webcasting was the most commonly accessed form of Web video at 70%, but all sorts of types scored well. Overall, 78.1% of respondents said video "makes online content more compelling," while 57% said video content had influenced a b-to-b technology buying decision.
"Video is really mature from an audience perspective, especially webcasts," said Stacy Malone, VP-interactive media director at Universal McCann. "Beyond that, there's a huge opportunity in video content hosted on b-to-b content sites. But it's been a challenge to get publishers to move in that direction. It's a huge opportunity for publishers to embrace."
Less clear in their impact are wikis (interactive Web pages where users can contribute as well as consume content) and social networks (sites that enable networking and communications among groups of users).
On the wiki front, 86% of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with wikis, while 63% said they visited wikis primarily for technology or business information. But those strong numbers were somewhat mitigated by the fact that only 6% of respondents said they regularly contributed content to a wiki, while 57% said they had never contributed at all.
"Wikis are still a big unknown," Malone said. "Users are very interested in utilizing them, but they are not contributing yet, which is a big counterintuitive from this audience."
Responses about social networks?the b-to-b site LinkedIn was the most-cited example?were mixed as well. When asked about familiarity with social networking sites, 42% of respondents claimed they were "somewhat familiar," and 35% claimed that they were "not at all" familiar.
The challenge—and opportunity—for new media forms is to get users not only to consume the medium, but participate in it and share it with others, said Knowledge Storm's Lohman.
"The upside of all this is that when people are more openly sharing content and collaborating in this type of medium, the more powerful your marketing can be if you come with the right program or proposition," Lohman said.