Trade e-zines skip the ink and paper

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Don't expect to see Globetrotter Software ads in trade magazines or business newspapers.

That's because the 4-year-old software company based in Campbell, Calif., is a firm believer in e-zines -- online magazines that are also called Webzines. And because Globetrotter distributes its product via the Internet, it wants advertising that will drive its customers -- information technology executives, programmers and Net marketers -- directly to its Web site.

We stopped distributing software by mail a few years ago when we noticed that only a tiny fraction of our customers requested delivery of our software on CD, says Richard Mirabella, Globetrotter president. All of our customers were on the Internet and they just downloaded our products from our Web site. So it makes sense that our advertising strategy focus on the Web and ways to direct prospects to our Web site.

Targeting tech niches

Globetrotter was a charter advertiser in SunWorld, a 3-year-old e-zine published by Web Publishing, a division of International Data Group in San Francisco. SunWorld, which focuses on UNIX and Internet server applications, was the first of four publications launched by Web Publishing, which specializes in information technology-oriented Web-zines.

Others include JavaWorld, Network Computing World and a new publication launched this year, Netscape Enterprise Developer.

None of the publications has a print counterpart at the company and all of them focus on comprehensive coverage of a narrow technical field, says Group Publisher Colette McMullen.

Editorial content ranges from new-product announcements to long technical articles on the latest programming applications.

SunWorld reaches about 90,000 information technology professionals each month, she says. It offers banner advertising placement on the it's home page and rotating banners at the top of every article as well as placement in the publication's product showcase section. One-month placement costs $72 for a guaranteed 150,000 impressions and includes a monthly traffic report, identifying both viewer impressions and click-throughs from the publication page locations.

JavaWorld, founded in 1996, is the largest of the Web Publishing Webzines with about 150,000 readers each month, and charges $65 for a one-month placement package.

High click-throughs

Mr. Mirabella says the Webzines deliver high click-through of its audience to his company Web site -- about 1.5% -- and generate a high volume of qualified buyers.

He also uses DoubleClick, a New York-based Internet ad network, to place banner ads on search engine and other high-tech Web sites.

There is no way that trade print advertising can consistently deliver this kind of audience to my Web site each month. You might get the same number of impressions, but you will never get the same level of interaction, he says.

Media buyers say technical Web-zines can play a powerful role in business-to-business marketing campaigns.

It all depends upon the advertiser's objective and target market, says Melanie Donaldson, senior media manager at Evans Group in San Francisco. Are you looking for brand awareness or are you trying to build traffic for your own Web site?

Webzine advertising generates quick interaction between Web sites and can support electronic commerce, she says, but generally fails at promoting brand awareness.

Webzines can target very select business markets and banner advertising on Webzines can direct a highly qualified audience to advertiser Web sites, Ms. Donaldson says.

For lead generation, online ordering or delivery of product information, Web publications can really do the job.

However, Ms. Donaldson cautions that audience research for

Webzines is still inadequate.

We've only just begun to get good, audited audience information for the Web. Until that research is generally accepted and readily available, Webzine advertising should only be part of a more comprehensive media mix, she says.

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