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Slicing up IT niches

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To help advertisers target readers who have specific technology needs, publishers are creating super-segmented online content areas.

"The big challenge for these online publishers is to aggregate a large enough audience to provide a worthwhile marketing opportunity," said Nate Elliott, associate analyst at Jupiter Research, New York.

Last week, CMP Media L.L.C.’s TechWeb Network launched StoragePipeline.com, a new Web site dedicated to news and information about storage technology products and issues. It features articles from CMP publications such as InformationWeek and Network Computing, storage product news and product directories.

StoragePipeline.com, which has a weekly companion newsletter, is the first in a series of sites under the CMP’s Pipeline.com brand. The next two Pipeline sites planned for rollout this year will cover security and wireless.

Addressing the rationale for launching super-segmented products, Amy Sklar, managing director of CMP’s TechWeb Network, said: "Although there is a downturn in technology, there are buyers who are spending."

To determine which technology sectors to include in the Pipeline series, CMP looked at whether there was a large enough user database and enough vendors to support the effort. "Storage had all that going for it," Sklar said.

Advertising opportunities will be offered on a sponsorship basis, with premier placement on content pages and in the electronic newsletter.

Also last month, Accela Communications Inc. launched two new Web sites in its ITworld.com network. The new sites—storage.itworld.com and utilitycomputing.itworld.com—provide news and commentary on these specific industries. The ITworld.com network now has six technology sites targeting enterprise IT professionals.

Both the Accela and CMP storage sites will compete with SearchStorage.com, a Web site produced by TechTarget. TechTarget, which has been offering narrowly defined technology content since 1999, grew its revenues by 54% in 2002 over 2001. The company offers 18 Web sites, numerous newsletters and events in niche IT markets. Storage is its flagship category—so much so that it launched Storage, a monthly print magazine with a controlled circulation of 50,000, in March 2002.

"Technology advertisers can’t afford to message the whole world," said Greg Strakosch, CEO of TechTarget. "Demand for efficiency is a huge thing, and it plays into the bigger trend of an increased focus on ROI by media buyers." TechTarget offers advertisers guaranteed leads and lead tracking through a service called TargetROI, which it rolled out in 2001.

Another effort to offer advertisers super-targeted placement within specific technology content was unveiled last month by IDG’s InfoWorld Media Group, which partnered with performance advertising company Industry Brains to create a Marketplace section on InfoWorld.com. The section offers advertisers cost-per-click listings in 16 content areas, including security, wireless and storage. Advertisers pay for placement in relevant content areas and are charged only when users click on their link.

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