Small B-to-B Brands Get Their 'TV Moment'

Industry's Been Slow to Come Online but Finds Promise in Narrowcasting

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As more of the U.S. population moves online, B-to-B industries that previously thought they were immune to the migration have had to begin figuring out their web strategies. And increasingly, those strategies are involving video.
Starlink, Cygnus' media agency, worked with Caterpillar to complete the deal for the spot on ForConstrutionPros.com.
Starlink, Cygnus' media agency, worked with Caterpillar to complete the deal for the spot on ForConstrutionPros.com.

'Sight, sound and motion'
Recently, for example, Caterpillar launched what are essentially long-form commercials -- or infomercials -- on ForConstructionPros.com, a division of Cygnus. Such online-video plays are letting marketers previously relegated to print media take advantage of the "sight, sound and motion" of TV, said Starlink's Vickie Szombathy, who chairs the American Association of Advertising Agencies' B-to-B committee. Starlink, Cygnus' media agency, worked with Caterpillar to complete the deal for the spot on ForConstrutionPros.com.

"We're finding more and more that Caterpillar's customers are going online for information," she said. "It was a category that's slow to coming online because people were often out on road and traditional means of communication was face-to-face or through dealers. But now ... we're finding the category moving online for information and things like specs."

Caterpillar already had a great deal of video assets: training videos and the promotional videos dealers would use to sell the company's products. Much of the content on the video site will be repurposed, said Carr Davis, Cygnus Business Media's co-CEO. "I don't think it's appropriate to just produce video for the internet as a first run, but [it works] if you have content and repurpose it."

Reminiscent of cable TV
Cygnus used Permission TV technology to build the new video channel. Mr. Davis looks at it as one step removed from cable TV, which opened up a whole new type of niche programming that broadcast could never make possible. The business model for the channel isn't quite sussed out -- it's too early to see where the CPMs will land, said Mr. Davis. But it's clearly part of a trend. Earlier this year, for example, Scripps Networks launched HGTVPro.com, a video-rich site targeting professional builders.

"This is energizing for B-to-B," said Ms. Szombathy. "It's been such a traditional world of trade publications." Trades will still be important, she said, but "[marketers of] a very specific vertical product normally won't have a budget for television. Well, now they can use the video assets they have, craft long-form commercials and put them out there in a forum that allows them, in essence, to be on TV."
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