B2BWorks, GE Enter Ad Alliance

B2BWorks, a business-to-business online marketing and media services company, has entered into an exclusive advertising alliance with GE Services Network that allows the Chicago-based company to sell premium advertising space on an array of GE's popular manufacturing-oriented Web sites.

The deal lets B2BWorks sell banners on popular GE plastics industry portals such as GE Polymerland, GE Silicones and GE Plastics. In turn, GE Services Network, an operating unit of General Electric Co., gets an equity share in B2BWorks. The company also nets a 60-40 percentage split on each completed transaction.

The plastics market is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States, accounting for about $304 billion in annual shipments, according to The Society of the Plastics Industry. GE's Polymerland site alone netted more than $1.5 billion in online orders in 2000, company documents show.

“Corporate branded portals are an ideal medium for reaching the most loyal and active customer base — when they are at the point of purchase,” said Bill Furlong, B2BWorks' president/CEO. “Our alliance offers BTB marketers a brand-new way to reach a core audience.”

“That's what makes this such an impressive opportunity for all the industry players out there,” B2BWorks spokeswoman Stacy Reineking said. “With all the traffic these sites generate, as an advertiser you're definitely going to be able to reach your audience. But even more than that, you're going to be able to reach them at a point and time when they're looking to make purchases for their companies.”

Reineking said B2BWorks officials term their strategy “contextual relevance.”

“Our belief is that when people come to business-industry-related sites like these, they're doing so for a specific reason — that being they're ready to buy,” she said. “Advertising on sites like these gives companies a chance to reach these decision makers at that very moment.”

Forrester Research analyst Jim Nail seems sold.

“If this isn't the wave of the future, it's definitely safe to say we're going to be seeing a lot more of it,” he said. “In the BTB world, target audiences are very narrow and niche-oriented. But in this case, there's no question you're reaching the audience you need to get to.”

B2BWorks officials said companies such as Sumitomo, Barbender and Technor had signed on to do advertising. Reineking said GE's only stipulation is that the advertiser not be a direct competitor.

“If their services simply complement what GE does, that's OK,” she said. “As long as they aren't a direct competitor, that's fair game for us.”

B2BWorks officials said they expect site traffic to rise at least 20 percent in the coming months.

B2BWorks first brought the notion of corporate portal advertising to the BTB marketplace in June, when it announced a partnership with OfficeMax.com to be its exclusive online advertising sales team.

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