Webinars effectively engage customers

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Analyst Michael Greene covers b-to-b interactive marketing for Forrester Research. He spoke to Media Business about the strength of webinars, holistic approaches and the need for data that dives deep. Media Business: Has the increased spending on webinars that analysts anticipated at the start of 2010 materialized? Greene: Anecdotally, it's an area where we've seen a lot of investment. The economy is still rough, especially for a lot of b-to-b companies. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the sectors that they're playing in and they're looking for ways that they can more deeply engage their customers, perhaps more efficiently. MB: What is driving media buying? Greene: Audience is increasingly becoming the driver. The challenge for b-to-b media buyers has been how to get somebody in that business-related context. In many cases these audiences are small and hard to find. Money has just flowed largely to either very wide-reaching types of platforms or to very niche publications that have a very narrow content focus. Especially online, as we see more advanced targeting technology come into the marketplace, it's something that smart b-to-b marketers are going to start exploring so they can understand how to start [reaching] through media [to their] customers or potential customers in places where they haven't been able to in the past; or, if they're doing a wide-reaching media play, how to make this more effective and more targeted. MB: How can media companies better serve their advertisers? Greene: Publishers really need to get an understanding of their own audience data and get a deeper understanding of who is really coming to the website and what their expectations are. I work with a lot of people in the media business, and it is always shocking how little media companies know about their audiences outside of that very high-level, aggregate basis. People might know demographics or some general interests, but they know that for the entire context. With online publications, for instance, you can go deep into the section pages and publishers typically don't have a very good understanding of what that audience looks like and what its needs are going to be and what its interests are going to be from an advertising perspective. The more control they can get over that data and the deeper understanding they can have with that audience, the better position they are in to package items that are going to be attractive to advertisers and that advertisers are going to willing to buy.
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