The ROI Experts
Strakosch says advertisers aim to reach audiences during each of the three “stages” of the purchasing process: the pre-research stage of keeping up with industry news and trends; the active part of the research process, when people are on the Web with a specific goal in mind; and the face-to-face contact/product-demonstration stage, where purchasers have already made a short list and are deciding which among similar products best fits their needs.
“The most important part of the purchasing process is the research they are doing on the Web, because that’s when they’re narrowing down from 50 potential vendors to three,” Strakosch notes. “As a vendor, you need to get to that final list of three vendors, or you’re not going to win the business. That’s where we invest most of our resources, and that’s why all the ad dollars are switching from traditional media to online media, where people can do very targeted, very efficient campaigns and reach, in our case, IT professionals who are actively researching which product to buy.”
To find proof of this model’s success, one can simply look at the company’s top-tier advertising client base, which includes names like Microsoft, Dell, Red Hat, Sun, Oracle and Google.
Another gauge for success—page views and click-throughs—Schlack says, are important, but don’t tell you everything. “We do surveys of our readership to understand what topics they are most interested in, and, beyond that, we do a lot of surveys to understand what they’re actually doing in IT and why,” he says. “… Anyone can come to a Web site. We try to understand: Who’s coming? Is it our intended audience … or is our content somehow missing the mark with the right people?”
Relationship Building: An Eventful Proposition
Along with reader surveys, events offer an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the audience, Schlack says.