Tech pros adopt two-way online channels
Online video gives marketers a tool to enhance technology content, while social networks and wikis let them target niches and increase reach within the business-to-business marketplace.
These two-way media channels keep customers engaged, a new report by Internet research firm KnowledgeStorm and Universal McCann found, though adoption by the BTB audience varies by emerging media.
"To break through the Internet's clutter of information, technology marketers need to reach out and deliver relevant content by using the newest emerging media formats," the report said. "They must not only fine-tune the message, but also pump up the volume."
In the survey, 57 percent of respondents thought online videos affected their purchasing decisions. The survey was completed by 5,300 business and IT professionals globally, representing various job titles, vertical industries and company sizes.
"Overall, marketers need to prioritize their testing resources against adoption and push publishers to create new ways for marketers to participate in these environments," said Stacy Malone, vice president, interactive media director at Universal McCann, new York.
Online video is becoming an addiction to some Internet users, as 63 percent viewed online videos at least once a week, according to the report.
"The survey indicates that BTB business and IT professionals recognize the added dimension of video as an important and desirable communications component," the report said.
Webcasts are the most popular online video content, as 70 percent of respondents used the format.
More than 75 percent of respondents thought online video made content more compelling and valuable, while 84 percent said online video enhanced content related to technology product information and research. Online video also has an impressive pass-along rate, with 76 percent claiming they shared video content weekly or monthly.
"From the agency perspective, BTB publishers have been late to adopt video as a content distribution model beyond just the Webcast," Ms. Malone said. "We attribute this to the print heritage of a lot of BTB publishers. However, given strong results with video messaging, advertisers are willing to pay more for these types of user engagements. Marketers need to push publishers to embrace this as a relevant and compelling content distribution platform on their sites."
Social networking is a hot category, as illustrated by the number of page views and subscriber growth on MySpace and Friendster. However, the study found social networking has yet to gain acceptance in the BTB marketplace. Only 24 percent of respondents claimed to be very accustomed to social networks.
Most BTB business people are using the Web to find information. Participating in social networks requires giving up some information pertaining to yourself, like photos, opinions and friend lists. They may be uncomfortable being so open about personal and corporate information.
Social networks are uncontrollable, as the members who make up the community are the ones in charge. This could be another reason they have not been popular in the BTB marketplace.
"The BTB audience has been slow to formally embrace social networking," Ms. Malone said. "If a marketer has limited testing resources, it's probably best to focus on the emerging media vehicles with currently high BTB audience adoption (blogs, podcasts, etc)."
Wikis have changed the meaning of consumer-generated media.
"Although the survey confirms regular usage of wikis among business and IT professionals, they tend to tread ever so lightly through the wiki ethos," the report said.
BTB marketers seem skeptical of wikis because they are open source. The quality of the information wikis contain is constantly under question.
ComScore Media Metrix reports that wikipedia sites have tripled in traffic in the past year, with 28.1 million visitors.
Start-up companies as well as established corporations have used wikis to improve internal communications.
"Because this online medium offers a perfect platform for collaboration, wikis are moving very quickly from Internet to intranet," the report said.
Sixty-three percent of survey respondents who visit wikis do so for both business and technology information. The research also found that the majority of respondents think wikis provide shareable subject matter.
"The level of engagement of the BTB audience with wikis was definitely surprising (high awareness and high usage)," Ms. Malone said. "However, wikis are typically untapped from a marketing perspective. Marketers should consider testing ways of respectfully participating in this environment."