Back in 1792, two dozen prominent New York businessmen gathered under a tree to sign the so-called Buttonwood Agreement, which established a common commission basis for the trading of securities and set in motion the eventual creation of the New York Stock Exchange.
In the two centuries since then, there have been only a few general terms used to describe the places in the U.S. where stocks are traded, namely stock market/exchange, securities market/exchange and equities market/exchange. Throw in a few terms used as shorthand--Big Board for the NYSE, Wall Street for the markets in general--and the list is still brief.
Now, consider the explosion in terms used to describe Internet-based marketplaces for the exchange of goods and services. In the pages of BtoB, we've used the following:
Automated purchasing hub, online hub, Web hub, e-hub, buying hub.
Net portal, vertical portal.
Web exchange, business exchange, b-to-b exchange, trading exchange, procurement exchange, purchasing exchange.
E-marketplace, online marketplace, Internet marketplace, Net marketplace, Net market.
Among the other terms being tossed around by marketers are: transactional portal, cyberspace hub, intermediary and, worst of all, vortal--short for vertical portal.
Seeking a consensus
A few weeks back, we posted the following survey question on netB2B.com in the hopes of finding a consensus out there: "What's in a name? What term is your favorite for electronic b-to-b marketplaces?" The choices were: "e-markets," "e-marketplaces," "trading hubs," "Net markets" and "none of the above."
As you probably guessed, the last choice was far and away the most popular, garnering a 38% share. Next was e-marketplaces (19%), followed by e-markets (18%), Net markets (13%) and trading hubs (12%).
I personally prefer e-marketplace. Eventually the "e" will become superfluous when the bulk of goods and services are traded on the Internet, and we'll be left with just marketplace--a good, solid, concise term. I also hope that hub sticks around as well. If you've ever tried to fit "marketplace" into a headline, you'll understand why.
Since our poll question obviously missed the mark, we want to give this naming effort another try. Please send in your suggestions to the e-mail address listed below.
We can then gather up the suggestions and meet under the buttonwood tree and pick a term that will stand the test of time.
John Obrecht is managing editor of BtoB.