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Nov 14, 2002
Case Study

TechWeb's New Links Listings Generate $150k More Ad Sales in 45 Days

SUMMARY: Just in time for their 4th quarter sales push, CMP's TechWeb
Network invented a new ad package. It is a cross between sponsored
links and contextual advertising. Sales have already exceeded
their hopes. Yes, in a down year.

We think it is a tactic other content-rich sites could copy.

One afternoon in late July Amy Sklar, Managing
Director of CMP Media's TechWeb Network, pulled her sales and
marketing team into a brainstorming session.

She gave them one single goal: "To invent an entry-level
advertising package, instead of our standard $50-60-150,000
priced packages."

Tech publishers, like all other sectors, have a limited number of
very large advertisers who are willing and able to foot big
bills. Once you have got them buying already, your room for
expansion is mostly at levels below where there are many more
players, albeit with smaller budgets.

Sklar gave her team a deadline: They had to invent something
that would give TechWeb a lift in time for 4th quarter this year.
Which meant they had to start sales pitches for their invention
by September at the latest.


During their brainstorming session, Sklar and her team
surfed a few vendor sites to see what sorts of offers and
marketing campaigns were running.

They noticed that tech marketers were just as obsessed with
bringing in 4th quarter sales as anyone else. Instead of working
on long-term branding, these marketers were rolling out tight
niche sales lead generation campaigns, trying to find the
perfect couple of dozen prospects for their sales team to convert
into sales this year.

Sklar's team invented Focal Points, an incredibly granular
advertising package to match these marketers' needs.

Here is how it works:

For flat fee of $15,000 per month, advertisers get hotlinks to
their granular offers (such as white papers and webinars)
displayed next to directly related TechWeb articles for a total
of at least 250,000 impressions.

Basically it is what you get when you cross sponsored links with
contextual advertising.

Once package is sold, the six-week production process is managed
in five steps:

Step 1: Editorial

The marketing team searches TechWeb's files for four-to-six
really useful articles on the specific topic the sponsor has

Step 2: Focal Point landing page

The Web team create a special landing page (link to sample below)
for that topic. It includes links to the selected articles on
the left side and up to five links to useful content offerings
(white papers, webinars, spec sheets, etc.) from the sponsor on
the right hand side.

The sponsor also gets to display a small version of their logo,
and a brief blurb of copy about who they are, above their links.

Step 3: Optimizing sponsor copy

TechWeb's marketers look over all the copy, including links
wording, that sponsors submit to make sure it is the right length,
offering something TechWeb surfers will find real value in, and
enticingly worded enough to get clicks.

Michael Grover, TechWeb's Director of Marketing, says, "We
restrict to 65 characters on the landing page and 45 characters
on ads elsewhere in our network. I think shorter links are
better for response - you get down to the very essence of the

The links go directly to the sponsor's site. However, for an
additional fee TechWeb offers a lead-collection page that can sit
between the link and the sponsor's site.

Step 4: Driving traffic to Focal Point landing pages

Ads for the Focal Point topical areas are included on the top
right corner of some site pages, and on the left navigation bar
of other pages. They are clearly marked as "sponsored links" but
the copy names the editorial topics of each landing page, not the
sponsor name or the sponsor's offers.

Step 5: Placing top 2 linked offers throughout the Network

Each sponsor's top two offer links are also distributed to appear
next to relevant stories throughout the TechWeb Network including
on various sites and in email newsletters.

It does not matter which TechWeb product the link is in, all that
matters is that the content is extremely contextually relevant.

Sklar says, "It's product agnostic exposure. It takes the
emphasis off the deliverable for a particular newsletter or site
and puts the emphasis on a systematic solution for your
customer." Which makes sales pitches less about the product and
more about solving a problem.

After the marketing and production team got their production
plans laid out, Sklar's sales reps hit the phones in September to
call key prospects as well as current customers and see who would


"We closed one sale within a week, and ten in
45 days," says Sklar. "Several sold for several months, others
are renewing now. We've already renewed quite a few."

In fact customers reacted so eagerly that the team had to
scramble to get production wheels turning properly in time.

Grover jokes, "It was like 'Can you try not to close that sale
yet?!" Sklar, "Oh gosh there are people in the audience now, we
have to get our costumes on." Grover, "Luckily we had the play
already written."

Aside from sales, the link results are also heartening. Grover
says, "The click throughs have been through the roof. We're
seeing 2-4% on many of the sponsored links on the Focal Point
pages. It's significantly higher than industry average."

Links in email newsletters are also doing well. Grover thinks
this is partially due to the fact that sponsors' ads appear in
the body of the editorial in the left column of each newsletter.
He worries that if TechWeb relegated ads to the right column,
recipients viewing newsletters in their Outlook Preview boxes
would never see them. (Note: He is right, and 46% of the world's
email users use Outlook.)

Of the ad links to drive traffic to Focal Point landing pages,
the ads at the very top right corner are outpulling the ads in
the left navigation bar. "More people see it on top," says

Useful links:

Five samples of TechWeb's landing pages, ad creative, etc:

See our past Case Study on TechWeb's other ad sales initiatives
(Note: there is a token fee which helps support our site)
See Also:

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