PointCast channels help marketers target execs

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When an insurance company decided to relocate 10 executives to Tampa, Fla., it found ads for upscale builder Hannah Bartoletta on PointCast's Tampa Tribune channel.

Six of the 10 executives bought Hannah Bartoletta homes. Another PointCast subscriber not related to the insurance company, saw the builder's ads on PointCast before moving to Tampa from California. "When he went to a community and saw us, he knew of us, and we sold him a home," said Charley Hannah, who's VP of the building company. "That was one piece of the puzzle."

The local channels on PointCast's Business Network are paying off for national and regional advertisers, helping to generate qualified leads and grab a narrowly targeted audience's attention.


For instance, Mr. Hannah said PointCast helps Hannah Bartoletta cut through the clutter. While ads in real estate magazines generate numerous leads, "the quality is poor at best," and he said he might get one strong lead out of 100. "I'd much rather get five leads and have one that's good, and have time to follow up on that," he said.

Even Web site leads needs to be sifted, he said, explaining that he gets plenty of calls and e-mails from curious people who visit his site but have no intention of buying a home in Tampa.

"That is why we're trying to be in places like PointCast, which has a higher demographic makeup. The people who are looking through PointCast will be able to afford our homes."


The Illinois Bureau of Tourism had a similar experience last year during a three-month campaign on PointCast's Chicago Tribune channel. The 30-second spot showed scenes of Chicago and received 18,314 click-throughs. The ads also ran on the Tribune's site and America Online's Digital City Chicago. The advertiser is renewing the campaign with new creative for another three-month run starting in August. The Illinois Bureau of Tourism is "in some sense a global marketer," said Kurt Fliegel, manager of interactive advertising, Chicago Tribune. "They expect people from the around the world to come to Illinois."

"We knew who was clicking on the ad, and we could estimate a 5% to 8% click-through rate," added Kathy Rogers, director of affiliate relations at PointCast. "Against most industry standards, that's phenomenal."

Since the Tribune online joined PointCast's network of online newspapers in 1996, Mr. Fliegel said he attributes to it a steady flow of traffic. "PointCast gets us into a business user during the working day," Mr. Fliegel said. Even though it's a scaled down version of content from the Tribune site, he added, "We look at it as a crucial distribution arm."

Don Albert, VP-affiliate development and strategic sales at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PointCast, said its strategy from the beginning was to shore up sales support for local media advertisers.

It currently has 14 leading national newspapers represented on its Affiliate Network, including the Chicago Tribune online, the Los Angeles Times online and New York Times on the Web.

On the Chicago Tribune channel, for instance, PointCast recently added an icon and link to the Tribune's classifieds page, as well as Metromix, the Tribune's Chicago entertainment guide.


PointCast is also trying to help national advertisers use its local channels for targeting. When Lockheed Martin Corp. wanted to promote its S-22 Anti-war jet, it zeroed in on politicians and lobbyists in Washington.

To reach this group of decision makers, it used PointCast's Government Insider edition, which has news channels tailored for government employees, and its channel for The Washington Post.

The ad featured an S-22 plane flying across the screen, and when users clicked on the plane, it asked "What is an antiwar plane?" and then detailed why they should support the fighter plane.


The three-month campaign, which wrapped up in June, received more than 6,000 click-throughs in the first month, with nearly 9% of those coming on the first day.

"They wanted to reach people inside the Beltway," Mr. Albert said.

And from PointCast registration data, Mr. Albert added, it learned 15% of Washington Post channel viewers worked within government.

It was also a cost-efficient campaign for Lockheed, Ms. Rogers said, noting the Washington Post had a charter rate with Lockheed that worked out to an average of 22 cents per click for the entire campaign.

And in a city where schmooze lunches are the norm, "It's an incredibly efficient way to do business in Washington," Ms. Rogers added.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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