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RealNames advocates clarity over chaos

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Name: Steve Barrett
Title: VP-market development
Company: RealNames Corp., Redwood City, Calif.Goal: "To provide intuitive direct access to any kind of information on the Internet."
To Steve Barrett, there’s nothing worse than a print advertisement with a Byzantine Web address as the call to action. The former advertising executive, who presided over some of the largest names in the pharmaceutical industry, is out to abolish the practice.

As VP-market development for RealNames Corp., Barrett’s mandate is to sell corporations on the wisdom of plunking down between $100,000 and $3 million to own a thousand or more natural language searches in the Internet Explorer browser. Instead of typing in a Web address, business buyers could type "ThinkPad" and go directly to the IBM site, or type "paper" and get slotted to OfficeMax.com, Barrett said.

"As it stands today, the Web is anything but intuitive when it comes to finding specific products," Barrett said. "You see the most aggressive b-to-b marketers running full-page advertisements where the call to action is a specific Web page with the most ungainly and impossible-to-remember address."

Though RealNames has been making headlines among business-to-consumer marketers, Barrett believes the b-to-b space is ripe for the picking. The Internet Explorer browser is dominant on enterprise networks, and suppliers who can highlight how easy it is to find their widget will gain an upper hand, Barrett said. Moreover, a just-announced deal with VoiceStream Wireless Corp. means RealNames will be able to handle natural-language queries on mobile phones.

"The promise of ease is explicit in b-to-b advertising," Barrett said. "You have to boil the relationship down to something unique. We have the solution to that problem."

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