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TechTarget zeroes in on new industry

By Published on .

TechTarget.com, a company that develops search engines aimed at targeted sectors of the information technology professional market, announced late last month the launch of its latest industry-specific Web property, SearchWebHosting.com.

With the expansion, Needham, Mass.-based TechTarget brings the number of its vertical industry Web properties to 17. Other TechTarget sites include SearchASP.com, SearchNetworking.com, and SearchStorage.com. The sites and their search engines are winning advertisers and garnering praise from media strategists.

Among TechTarget's advertisers are IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. Rick Corteville, global account director for Beyond Interactive, which handles Oracle's online media placement, is a TechTarget fan. "The good thing about the sites that make up TechTarget is that you're able to hit a very niche audience," he said. "There's very little waste. People going to compare two digital cameras on CNET have no interest in Oracle."

For b-to-b marketers, TechTarget sites are an attractive supplement to broader tech sites, such as CNET.com, because they attempt to fulfill the Internet's promise of narrowcasting rather than broadcasting. "It is very targeted, and it is getting closer to one-to-one marketing," said CEO Greg Strakosch.

Central to the TechTarget model is the specialized search engine anchoring each of the 17 properties. The search engine differs from Google.com or AltaVista.com in that it doesn't scour the entire Internet, only relevant sites as determined by TechTarget's editors. With TechTarget, IT professionals performing a search for "storage" won't end up at the Allied Van Lines Inc. site, as they might with Yahoo.com.

Job-specific searches

The search engine is also key because it addresses thedifferent jobs in the IT world. "We're organized the way IT professionals define themselves," Strakosch said. "If I'm an IT professional, I don't look at my job as 'I'm an IT professional.' It's more like, 'I'm a Lotus Domino administrator.' And that person can go to SearchDomino.com."

Beyond the search engine, the sites also offer daily news culled from MSNBC.com, CNET and other sites. TechTarget sites also offer opt-in e-mail newsletters. Currently, TechTarget has more than 500,000 registered IT users. Between site visits and newsletters, Strakosch estimates TechTarget reaches its average user about 35 times a month.

For Oracle, the sites perform well. "The conversion rates are up above what Oracle considers successful," said Corteville, who declined to comment on specific numbers.

TechTarget ads generate between 2% and 20% click-through rates, figures well above average Internet banner performance, Strakosch said.

StorageNetworks Inc. is another TechTarget convert. The company, which has Hill Holliday Advertising Inc. as its agency, is an aggressive marketer that runs ads in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and The Industry Standard. Online, however, StorageNetworks advertises only on TechTarget sites. "These sites are doing a fantastic job for us," said Nicole Gorman, StorageNetworks' director of corporate communications.

StorageNetworks is a platinum sponsor of several TechTarget Web properties, including SearchStorage.com. On the site, a Storage- Networks logo with the tagline, "Storage service for the e-economy," appears for every visitor. StorageNetworks' ads also pop up when certain keywords, such as "storage," "networking," and "SAN" (storage area network) are entered in a Web search.

"We have the ability on our Web site to track which folks are coming in from which sites," Gorman said. "Consistently, the highest number are coming from TechTarget's sites."

Despite its attraction to advertisers, TechTarget poses no direct threat to news sites such as ZDNet.com or TechWeb.com. That's because TechTarget, other than summaries of news stories, creates no content of its own.

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