Revamped TechRepublic offers new opportunities for marketers

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In the early days of the Internet—B.F., before Facebook—there were social media sites. TechRepublic, a peer-to-peer networking site for information technology professionals was one of them.

“We were social networking before social networking was even a term,” Doug Llewellyn, VP-CBS Interactive Business Technology, said in an exclusive interview with BtoB.

TechRepublic debuted in 1999 to offer content and the opportunity for IT professionals to interact online. A CBS Interactive company, TechRepublic on Sunday unveiled a new design for its website that encourages more interaction from users and offers new opportunities for b-to-b technology marketers.

The new design enables users to share content more easily via Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the new site provides a greater emphasis on interaction with TechRepublic content through voting, discussions and questions.

With the new website design, user questions—and the answers and commentary surrounding them—are now captured on a single page. Users will find “at-a-glance” views of the most active discussions and questions throughout the site.

“Users can find each other more easily, and they can ask and answer questions in a much more efficient way,” Llewellyn said.

In redesigning the site, TechRepublic gathered input from users. About 40 users gathered in 2009 for a meeting at TechRepublic's editorial offices in part to provide input on how to improve the site. About 60 users did the same last year.

The new site also offers new advertising opportunities, such as the Tech Blueprint ad program, which has been used previously on sibling CBS Interactive site ZDNet by prominent b-to-b marketers, such as Google, Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.

With Tech Blueprint, TechRepublic said marketers can “own” a content category, with brand advertising that surrounds relevant content, such as news, blog posts and white papers. Marketers using Tech Blueprint have their messages run across the top of the page and down the sides, and they move along with users as they scroll down the page.

HP Enterprise recently ran a six-month program on ZDNet using Tech Blueprint that promoted storage products. “I would consider it a 360-degree engagement with customers, because of the way the content was presented,” said Julie Price, advertising manager at HP Enterprise Business. “You were able to brand the page across the top and down the side. There was HP messaging everywhere. It was a true customer experience where everywhere they looked they saw an HP message.”

Price said the campaign performed well and delivered a 750% increase in click-throughs compared to previous executions. TechRepublic anticipates similar results when the Tech Blueprint launches on the newly revamped site.

“TechRepublic offers marketers a unique environment because our users have told us that they want to hear from vendors,” Llewellyn said in a statement announcing the site redesign. “They care about the latest technologies being brought to market, and vendor information is a critical piece of helping them make decisions to get their jobs done.”

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