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Techs make top ad targets

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A new study examining Web-based buying by companies suggests that technology advertisers may miss the mark if they target messages at nontechnical top executives.

The study, called "eMarket Insight," found that 41% of information technology executives initiated Web buying, while just 9% of C-level executives did so; the remaining 59% were scattered throughout the company.

The study, conducted by Ziff Davis Strategic Intelligence Group, a unit of Ziff Davis Media Inc. that provides marketing, consulting and research services, also found that third parties, such as consultants, are used to develop e-business by about two-thirds of the companies surveyed.

"Technology advertisers are spending a disproportionate amount of their ad dollars on non-technical executives," said Rebecca McPheters, senior VP-strategic services of Ziff Davis’ Strategic Intelligence Group. "There’s a disconnect in that top executives don’t play as large a role in the decision-making process relative to other groups." One way tech advertisers can remedy the situation: mining lists and databases that unite executives in a specific subject area.

But Van Baker, VP-research at Gartner Inc., said reconciling ad dollars with who is making the decisions can be a daunting task for advertisers. "It’s an almost impossible task," he said. "The guy putting the IT strategy together is often a combination of C-level executives, while the implementation could get farmed out all over the place. So who does the marketer shoot for?"

Baker went on to say that targeting decision-makers "boils down to good old-fashioned networking to refine the marketing campaign." This often demands the sales force help the marketing department identify who ultimately gets the call.

The study also found that about 10% of companies surveyed spent more than $1 million on e-business in the past year for both procurement and their own e-commerce projects.The buying process is an average of about three months, although the buying cycle is longer among companies spending more than $100,000 per year on e-business.

The eMarket Insight study involved 900 telephone interviews with non-technical CXOs and their designates, IT professionals and e-business managers at companies currently conducting business on the Web.

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