*Study: BTB Advertising Is Booming

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During the past four months business-to-business sites have been living up to their hype, at least in the marketing world, as there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of BTB companies advertising on the Web, according to AdRelevance, an Internet advertising and ad tracking firm in Seattle. Comparatively, other industries such as retail, financial services and automotive grew an average of 17 percent.

According to the firm's "Intelligence Report," released the week of March 20, this increase resulted in a 66 percent growth in the number of ad impressions per BTB company.

These results are an indication that the Internet has arrived, according to Charlie Buchwalter, vice president of media research at AdRelevance and co-author of the study. "Everyone has been saying that the Internet has gone mainstream. Things don't go mainstream until businesses wholeheartedly adopt them. Businesses are really starting to understand how the Internet can transform their expense structures."

Although online advertising is growing as a whole, BTBs are poised to move faster than other industries, said Buchwalter. "In 1999, the Internet Advertising Bureau said online advertising was 2 percent of companies' total advertising budgets. Other research firms are forecasting the number will double each year for the next three to five years, which means online advertising will grow significantly. The BTB category overall will continue to outpace the growth of other segments of the economy."

Sixty-two percent of all BTB advertising is being done by three industry segments: Web design and domain registration (28 percent); business technology (20 percent); and e-commerce support and security (14 percent).

Although some nontechnical industries have exploded, they have yet to match the technology-focused companies in online advertising. According to the study, the number of businesses in the consulting industry (107) has surpassed business technologies companies (79). However, consulting companies account for only 5 percent of impressions on the Net.

"All of this goes to the same theme that we are at the infancy of this market," said Buchwalter. "There are going to be shifts in market share."

Although the majority of the BTB ad buys are on portals, communities and search engines (78.2 percent), these companies have focused on computing and technology sites much more heavily than business-to-consumer plays. Nearly 10 percent of BTB impressions are on computer and technology sites, compared with only 3.2 percent of BTC impressions. BTB sites also spend more heavily at business and finance and general news sites while spending less at gaming and kids' and family sites. BTC companies have 83.7 percent of their impressions on portals, communities and search engines.

Research companies have projected the online BTB market to be in the trillions within a few short years. The GartnerGroup, Stamford, CT, for example, has the industry pegged at $7.29 trillion in 2004.

The biggest BTB advertisers were Network Solutions, WorldSubmit, Hiway Technologies, Internet Communications and 9NetAvenue. AdRelevance is owned by Media Metrix, New York.

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