Behind the Numbers: Marketers Look to Emerging Media

Blogs, podcasts, wikis, and online video are key sources of unfiltered data

The last time you looked for insight about a product or service, how did you go about finding that information? Traditionally, business-to-business technology buyers looked at their favorite magazine, perused a Web site, or talked to their colleagues. Media buyers and advertisers would then make decisions on where to invest based on data that showed where the highest concentration of buyers could be found. The rising popularity of emerging media is turning this traditional scenario on its ear.

Blogs, podcasts, wikis, and online video were once resources relied upon by relatively few early adopter B2B types. No more. Acceptance is rapidly growing and the emerging media trend is creating a situation where consumers drive the marketers. Emerging media provide an opportunity for marketers to receive unsolicited, unfiltered insight on how a product or service is perceived, increase the reach of marketing content, and provide a new way to break through the clutter to gain exposure to customers in a meaningful way. KnowledgeStorm and Universal McCann examined the impact of emerging media on B2B technology buyers through "The Emerging Media Series," a string of studies developed from more than 13,000 responses to surveys in '06.

A key consideration in the validity of emerging media's influence is whether it's perceived as affecting the decision-making process. The studies found that to be the case. Online video had the greatest impact, with 57 percent of respondents saying it influenced purchasing decisions. Blogs and wikis were also highly rated, coming in at 53 percent and 52 percent respectively. In the podcast study, 27 percent of respondents said podcasts influenced their purchasing decisions. B2B podcasts are expected to increase as more are produced and become available. This is likely to raise the number of buyers frequenting this medium.

In addition to the ability of a medium to shape opinions and preference, another consideration is the frequency of exposure to the medium. Emerging media rated well in this respect, too. Unlike traditional media, the "blogosphere" and universe of podcast, wiki, and online video content is dynamic and in a constant state of change. Again, online video leads, with 63 percent of respondents viewing video at least once a week. More than half (51 percent) of respondents visited blogs at least once a week, 50 percent visited wikis at least once a week, and 13 percent of respondents claimed to listen to podcasts "frequently."

Not only do you want your targets to get your message, but you want them to spread the word. The survey found that 70 percent of respondents pass along wikis and 76 percent share content from online videos. Part of this can be attributed to the value and credibility assigned to emerging media content. Ninety-six percent of respondents "gave value" to online video and wiki content. Blogs were rated "equally or more credible" than traditional media by 57 percent of survey respondents.

The bottom line is that emerging media is gaining ground in terms of capturing attention and establishing credibility with buyers. They provide additional options for buyers to gather information and give marketers a highly targeted means to gain visibility, and ideally, preference with customers and prospects.

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