Tuesday, December 7, 2004

TechTarget and Bitpipe: Connecting the Principal Elements of an Online Marketing Campaign

White papers have always fallen into a grey area between informational editorial content and blatant advertising. Complex high-tech products require an understanding of the underlying technology and how it relates to current products and competitive offerings. White papers, often written by external consultants, provide high-tech companies a more appealing way to provide detailed descriptions of their products than would a typical spec sheet written in a documentation style. The spec sheet may still be a necessary companion, but a white paper usually presents a more compelling story that explains the comparative advantages of the new product or service. White papers are a great example of how the lines between editorial content and advertising copy continue to blur, as detailed in my previous paper on Contextual Advertising (sec. 3.5).

Bitpipe, the Boston-based firm that created an online distribution network for white papers for the high-tech industry, has just joined forces with TechTarget as a result of the $40 M acquisition of Bitpipe by TechTarget. Along with TechTarget's editorial portfolio of online and print publications, advertising network, and conference business, Bitpipe brings content syndication, search engine marketing (SEM), and affililate marketing capabilities. Bitpipe also extends into helping customers integrate content from Bitpipe with other external content (e.g., analyst reports). The combined entity provides high-tech companies a new option to integrate multiple elements of their online campaigns with a single "agency". And, don't forget, TechTarget also provides print advertising outlets for several of its targeted segments.

To underscore the importance of offering an integrated platform for communicating with customers and prospects in multiple media, consider the comment from Steve King, Chief Executive of Zenith Optimedia, in a presentation at the UBS Media Week conference in NY yesterday. Steve said that clients are increasingly requiring "interaction between media" in their campaigns. Disjointed campaigns with portions doled out to separate online advertising agencies, search engine marketing (SEM) firms, content syndication outlets, and affiliate marketing networks simply won't make the cut for advertisers that are seeking an effective and measurable multiple-media approach for spending their marketing dollars. TechTarget, with its dual identities as a publishing company and an integrated advertising agency, is well on its way to offering a single point of contact for reaching targeted audiences using a mix of media formats.

p.s. If it seems as though Shore is writing a lot about TechTarget recently, it's simply because they have been very active in acquiring companies and key staff. In addition, TechTarget's success is drawing attention from traditional B2B trade publishers that want to know more about TechTarget's business model.
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