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Use of Net broadcasts increases

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Internet broadcasting -- moving video, audio, slides or any combination in front of a viewer on the Internet -- is growing in use and usefulness.

Internet broadcasting uses this "streaming media" for one-to-many communication. Like the Internet itself, this type of broadcasting is changing the way marketers can reach their target audiences -- prospects, dealers and other marketing/distribution partners.

"Internet broadcasting represents a new way for organizations to communicate with valued business partners," said Robert Edelman, founder and president of the Education, News & Entertainment Network (www.enen.com), a provider of business-to-business training and creative services over the Internet. "Organizations can target the right audience, prepare and present a technical presentation on a popular topic, interact with new customers and collect hundreds of highly qualified leads."

About 10% of U.S. businesses used Internet broadcasting last year, vs. 7% to 8% in 1997, said Sujata Ramnarayan, an Internet industry analyst for Dataquest, a market research and consulting company in San Jose, Calif.

Presentation products such as RealNetworks' RealAudio and Netpodium Inc.'s Netpodium enable the presenter to broadcast information from the computer over the Internet or company intranet. Those receiving the broadcast use their Internet/intranet connection in tandem with their computer, Web browser and appropriate software.

For business-to-business marketers, typical applications are product/service presentations, training, user forums and seminars.

A key benefit is the interaction between those presenting and those participating, made possible in part through e-mail and text-based chat functions. In addition, costs associated with traveling, rental halls and audiovisual equipment are eliminated.

"The basic appeal of Internet broadcasting for marketers can be traced back to the classic marketing tradeoff between richness of communications, reach and cost," said Stew Chapin, VP-marketing for Seattle-based Activate, a provider of Internet broadcast services to businesses.

In order to get "richness," a marketer usually must sacrifice reach or spend more money, such as for network TV advertising, Mr. Chapin said, and it continues to be difficult to target a desired audience. But with Internet broadcasting, specific audiences can be targeted more effectively, because a presentation can be easily segmented and adapted for a specialized group of viewers.

Streaming with a Point

Stephen Condon, VP-marketing for Intervu, San Diego, a provider of Internet video delivery services, said the use of Internet broadcasting is growing. The number of "streams," or events, delivered over Intervu's network for live events has tripled every month for the past two quarters.

Dataquest's Ms. Ramnarayan estimates, based on surveys, that the use of streaming media will grow 20% to 30% by 2000.

This foreseen growth may be spurred, in part, by Microsoft's Office 2000 PowerPoint program, which will have broadcast capabilities when the 2000 suite is released this summer. Mr. Chapin's Activate is one of two companies recently chosen by Microsoft to support the upgraded PowerPoint.

The program will enable a presentation to be transmitted over the Internet/intranet, with users viewing it on their Web browser in conjunction with the Microsoft Media Player program. The presenter will run the show in real time and can display a video image or speak to those viewing, or both, as long as a videocam-microphone is attached to the presenter's computer.

For Internet use, files will be uploaded just prior to the presentation, with the audience previously informed through e-mail as to the presentation's Web site location. For an intranet presentation, a company's information systems department typically will notify employees as to where on the company's site they can find the presentation.

With tools existing to help marketers understand who they are reaching, "it's the beginning of the metrics needed to integrate Internet broadcasting into the marketing mix," said Mr. Chapin.

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