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Online advertisers seek ROI

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Publishers say customers more interested in performance than particular advertising types With the overall economy in an uncertain state in the early months of 2008, what are b-to-b advertisers looking for from publishers, particularly online? As marketers consider tightening their belts, publishers agree, one consideration is paramount: return on investment. “What we're hearing from advertisers today is, "We want more ROI,' “ said Alec Dann, general manager-business media online at Hanley Wood Business Media. He's seeing some advertisers shifting out print altogether and more advertisers looking specifically for lead-generation programs. In comparison with technology advertisers, though, Dann said that the commercial construction advertisers that are focused on lead generation “are still five years behind technology companies” in terms of sophistication. “There's no doubt that performance is the primary criterion for everyone,” said Bill Baumann, group publisher of Penton Media's Electronic Design Group. “An advertiser will no longer jump in without a goal and objective to measure.” When it comes to new advertising methods, Baumann said the Penton philosophy is to jump on ideas before they get hot. “There is a group of advertisers out there who want to be on the cutting edge, who are always looking for whatever the new thing is,” he said. “We work with those partners in a spirit of give and take so that we're ready to launch new technologies and ideas—such as a video and virtual trade shows—one step before everyone else.” At 1105 Media, J.D. Holzgrefe, associate publisher of Redmond Media Group, and Dan LaBianca, associate publisher of Redmond Channel Partner, shared their insight about the trends they are seeing with advertisers via e-mail. While advertisers are definitely looking for more metrics to quantify the results of their advertising, they said several vendors told them that typical pure online lead-generation results and subsequent sale conversions diminished during the second half of 2007. They added this trend has pushed advertisers toward integrated media that provides awareness through print along with the tangibility of online media. Rather than looking for specific advertising products, Holzgrefe and LaBianca see their advertisers requesting—and receiving—very individualized campaigns. “The days of one-size-fits-all online and print advertising appear to be gone,” they said. Neil Rouda, publisher for MedTech Publishing, said his online advertisers “are looking for eyeballs, just as they are in nondigital programs. The challenge for publishers is to create more views.” To make MedTech's Web sites—which include two major brands, HealthcareITNews.com and HealthcareFinanceNews .com—more compeling to users, “we're all challenging ourselves to provide more real value for our site visitors.” One way MedTech is doing that is by creating communities “where [users] might invite friends, hang out and come back,” Rouda said. “The next step is to tell marketers and agencies more about the folks behind the eyeballs,” he added. Although MedTech is building registration offers to gather information about site visitors, he said, “we're still a long way from knowing as much about our online traffic as we do about our print subscribers.” From an advertising product perspective, MedTech is doing well with webinars”We can put more than 1,000 people on a call to listen to and watch a presentation. This is powerful, and the advertisers can't do it on their own,” Rouda noted. Another hot online advertising product for MedTech is what Rouda calls “macrosites, because they're too big to be a typical microsite. These gated-access sites have hundreds of pages of aggregate content on specific topics of interest to an advertiser or group of advertisers,” he said. “These enormous troves of content help us do well in search engines, and we collect and monetize the leads we get from registration.” MedTech is also taking a step back, technologywise, “to build more opportunities for text ads and contextual advertising,” Rouda said. “Flash banners are sexy, but text ads pull better.” M
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