TECHNOLOGY AGENCY MEDIA & MARKETING SURVEY;LITTLE CHANGE SEEN IN AD CAMPAIGN DURATION, TARGETS;TYPICAL EFFORT LASTS 3 TO LESS THAN 6 MONTHS AND TAKES AIM AT MIS/TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS

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Handling a high tech account in the rapidly evolving digital world doesn't necessarily mean agencies are changing marketing strategy at the same pace.

Questions about advertising tactics yielded results that show agencies aren't radically overhauling the way they get their message out to businesses or consumers. The target and duration of high tech campaigns seems to have stayed the same, although business is definitely not as usual in the explosive high tech market.

"It's a reflection of the market moving so fast," said Norman Flores, media supervisor at FCB Technology, San Francisco. "I see a lot of agencies out there just trying to catch up."

When it comes to advertising, high tech companies spend about 70 cents of every dollar targeting the business-to-business market; the rest is aimed at consumers.

"Most of the products being sold are networking or heavy-duty programming software for technical people," said Bob Storch, partner and media director at Poppe Tyson Advertising & Public Relations, New York. "Even the Internet still has more of a business-to-business orientation."

Tod Rathbone, VP-management supervisor at BBDO West, Los Angeles, thinks the top tier of technology vendors, like IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., has its collective thumb resting on the dollar scale.

"The numbers aren't incorrect, but those who do spend on consumers spend a disproportionate amount of money," Mr. Rathbone said. Placing an ad in a trade magazine to attract other businesses is considerably cheaper than buying TV time to hook more mainstream audiences, he said.

Asked which company executives business-to-business marketing is geared toward, about two-fifths of the total is spent to get the attention of management information systems/technical professionals. End users were a close second, followed by business managers-each having about one-fifth of the dollars spent. Resellers/original equipment manufacturers and others rounded out the list.

Considering corporate trends like downsizing and horizontal management, industry insiders were surprised the top two categories didn't finish in a tie because there is little distinguishing the two in respect to who holds the company purse strings.

"I still think that a lot of people are targeting the technical professionals more heavily, but I'm surprised department managers aren't closer in percentage because purchases now seem to be made by committee," said Tracy Golay, senior account executive at Greenstone Roberts, Melville, N.Y.

Mr. Storch agreed. "Even the end user at a small company can still be management. We're just looking for the guy who makes the buying decisions."

As for how long the technology campaigns last, two-fifths of the surveyed agencies said between three and less than six months. Another one-fifth said campaigns generally run six months to less than nine months.

Surprisingly, 63% of respondents said the duration of ad campaigns has held steady, with those answering that the length had shortened (21%) only five points higher than those who said campaigns have grown longer.

The computer industry reinvents itself every day, said Mr. Rathbone, who works on BBDO's Apple account. High product turnover dictates a quick life for high tech campaigns.

"After three to six months you're on to the next product launch," Mr. Rathbone said.

But the big corporations aren't as focused on the next product out of the pipeline as they are about branding. "If you're selling Microsoft [Corp.'s Windows 95], the product will leverage the company," he said.

"I would think less than three [months spent on an ad campaign] would get a higher percentage. Everyone is fighting to get the newest thing on the market. On some of our campaigns we have pushed for longevity but product changes always seem to change them," said Ms. Golay, who has worked with companies like QMS Inc., Mobile, Ala., and Telematics International Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "We would like to have longer campaigns for purposes of branding."

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