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‘Variety’ debuts The Biz, social network targeting entertainment field

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Reflecting the growing influence of Web 2.0 on b-to-b markets, Variety last week launched The Biz, a social network that lets entertainment and media professionals network, pitch products, exchange ideas and search for jobs.

The site (www.variety.com/thebiz) also provides a venue for employers to recruit talent and target candidates by specific interests and skills. Users will soon be able to upload video to the site.

“The entertainment industry is rooted in social networking, and [The Biz] is our attempt to make the process easier,” said Brian Gott, associate publisher of Variety.

The site was developed in association with Jobster, which builds online career networks.

Variety is published by Reed Business Information, which last week was put on the block by its parent company, Reed Elsevier. Variety.com attracts 3 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore. Gott said the Web site’s traffic more than doubled in January from a year earlier, generating about 11 million page views.

The Biz is an outgrowth of Variety Careers, which was launched in 2005. “We quickly realized there was much more we can do in connecting users to decision-makers in our industry,” Gott said. “The intent is to put [users] in touch with HR execs at the studios, headhunters or personnel at the independent film companies.”

Advertisements that previously ran on Variety Career are now running on The Biz, including messaging from Discovery Network, Fox and Nickelodeon. As the Web site develops and more specific demographics become available, marketers will be able to better pinpoint their ads, Gott said.

For business publishers, social networks have quickly emerged as an important component in their online platforms. The Financial Times this week introduced an exclusive membership forum (http://www.ftexecutiveforums.com/technology) for media and technology executives to be able to make and maintain contact with peers in the digital, new media, mobile and telecom sectors.

Many other b-to-b publishers, particularly in the technology markets, have introduced social networks with an eye to producing user-generated content.

However, tracking user behavior in social networks is difficult, according to a recent survey of digital marketing managers.

The online survey, conducted in January by digital advertising and consulting company Sapient, took the pulse of 120 professionals either directly or indirectly responsible for managing digital marketing budgets.

According to the survey, 35% of respondents said social media is the category they’re least confident about tracking in real time, and 51% said they felt only “somewhat confident” or “not confident at all” about their ability to track campaigns across multiple channels in real time.

“Social networks can be good or bad,” said Bill Hebel, media director at b-to-b ad agency Slack Barshinger. “They’re good for industries that lend themselves to social networking, and that’s why The Biz can be a killer combination,” he said. “But others may not be too good. It depends on the industry and whether people in that industry can lead the way.”

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