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IBM Corp. ranked a distant ninth in Web ad spending in mid-1996. But the world's biggest computer company and its Lotus Development Corp. worked the Web to close 1996 in third place, behind Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Corp.

At the center of IBM's media assault is Marianne Caponnetto, director of worldwide media strategy and operations.

"It is really a strategic medium for us; it's core to our business strategy; it's core to our communications strategy; and we intend to be a leader on the Web," Ms. Caponnetto said.

Microsoft has delivered on its word to be the biggest Web ad spender, but does IBM, the biggest tech advertiser overall, want the No. 1 spot in Web media?

"I don't think being the leader means spending the most," Ms. Caponnetto said. "Our goal is to take a leadership position in the most effective way possible," using Web ads, sponsorships, the more than 120,000 pages on IBM's site ( and content IBM builds for its customers.

Ms. Caponnetto, who joined IBM as its first worldwide media overseer in 1994, is pushing to use the Web to communicate in local languages on local sites.

In fact, IBM recently placed the first global buy on Yahoo!, and by yearend, Ms. Caponnetto projects IBM will be advertising on more than 500 sites internationally, more than half of them outside the U.S.

"The real growth in the Web is now going to be fueled by local language and content," she said.

Bradley Johnson

Betcha didn't know: Ms. Caponnetto speaks Italian, French and Spanish and knows some German, so she could ignore the subtitles in IBM's global brand TV

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