Yahoo! Webcasts angle for marketers

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In its biggest Web broadcasting gamble since buying in 1999, Yahoo! Inc. is launching a Webcast platform aimed at corporate marketers. Yahoo! Broadcast Services is introducing a streaming video and audio platform called Marketing Webcast Solutions.

The move marks the first time the company has specifically targeted corporate marketing departments with such services.

The packages will help marketing departments develop and promote Web broadcasts and allow them to tailor the broadcasts to product demonstrations, sales support, marketing seminars and brand equity demonstrations.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo! unit is betting that marketers, stung by recent cutbacks, will be keener than ever on outsourcing Internet broadcasting initiatives.

Yahoo! Broadcast’s Webcast packages cost between $250,000 and $2 million. The unit is initially targeting industries such as financial services and pharmaceuticals.

Web roulette?

The initiative underscores Yahoo!’s transition from a portal-centric content provider to a vendor.

The idea, said Jim Lewandowski, Yahoo! Broadcast’s VP-sales, is to allow marketers to entirely outsource Webcasting projects. "We provide consulting on the front end and help design your message," he said. "And then we use promotion to drive people to an event."

Most promotion will be done across Yahoo!’s Internet networks and through sales reps, he said.

At least one high-level marketer, Cisco Systems Inc.’s Manager of Seminar Programs Kathy Sulgit, is confident in Yahoo! Broadcast’s vendor abilities. Sulgit, who has contracted out Webcasting work for new product launches to Yahoo! Broadcast, said that Cisco is con-sidering signing up for the new package.

"We’re seriously evaluating them," Sulgit said.

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