CNET E-Mail Service Targets the 'Bull's-eye'

CNET Networks Inc. has introduced its “Bull's-eye” e-mail marketing program, which it said allows marketers to reach pre-qualified segments of a company's technology-buying audience.

The company, which provides online services and portals dealing with technology industries, said the program leverages CNET Networks' database of 15 million subscribers and uses its editorial-based marketing platform to deliver highly targeted messages to selected segments of its list.

Bull's-eye uses a subset of the 4 million opt-in names in CNET's database, said Pete Deemer, senior vice president of outbound media for CNET Networks, San Francisco. He would not say exactly how many names are available.

“There's been a substantial shift in e-mail marketing during the past year,” he said. “We've especially seen that as the volume of messages goes up, the response rates fall. The more messages an individual gets, the less time the message has to speak to them.”

The program takes advantage of the extensive data gathered when someone signs up for one of the company's 200 e-mail newsletters, he said. It lets marketers target customers based on demographic combinations such as job function, industry and company size. Messages can be targeted as narrowly as to information technology managers at aerospace companies with more than 1,000 employees.

“The data is very accurate and fresher because we ask for information every time someone signs up for another of our newsletters,” Deemer said. “We can segment it into very narrow slices.”

CNET has signed 18 clients for the new service, but would name only Sun Microsystems and Macromedia Corp. as using the e-mail program.

The messages, labeled as originating from CNET Networks, go out in text and HTML, Deemer said. They are sent using CNET's servers. Early next year, CNET plans to roll out Flash-enabled messages.

“The advertiser has an unlimited amount of real estate to work with,” he said. “The top and bottom of the message carries our brand.”

Scott Anderson, director of eMarketing at Sun Microsystems, said CNET's program lets it highly target its message.

“With Bull's-eye, we are leveraging the relationship CNET Networks has already established through its many e-mail newsletters and authoritative content,” he said. “The result for us is decreased marketing costs and increased response.”

Deemer said that some clients report click-through rates “an order of magnitude” higher than with other e-mail marketing programs. He would not elaborate.

Depending on the level of targeting and the size of the audience, customers pay CPM rates of $300 to $1,000, he said. If a search for a target audience results in a small number of names, CPMs could reach $3,000.

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