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Can Wireless Ads Work in the B2B Space?
Can Wireless Ads Work in the B2B Space?

Throughout the year 2000, I actually enjoyed the stacks of e-business and other new media publications that showed up in my mailbox, even if some of them were 600-pages thick. Yes, they could be burdensome at times, but I always enjoyed (and still do, though not as often) stories about an innovative, dare I say "cool" sounding dot-com or wireless venture being undertaken by enterprising entrepreneurs.

Of course, being a marketing person, I certainly enjoyed the advertising stories. But what I didn't enjoy quite as much (and still don't) were the B2B stories. They lack a certain "coolness" factor that a hot new B2C music start-up might have, for example. However, there are important things happening in the B2B space, even in wireless marketing. We may not hear about them as much, but B2B wireless ad campaigns have been conducted that show promising results. Intraware, a provider of high-end software to businesses, falls into this camp.

In April and May of 2000, Intraware ran a pioneering campaign in the United States on mobile information portal AvantGo, one of the first ad campaigns on the service. The company wanted to reach IT professionals to generate sales leads for its software. The leads would be followed up with e-mail, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Simple text ads that would be clear on Palm PDAs were used.

The strategy seems to have worked, with the ads reaching over 500,000 subscribers and generating over 20,000 leads with a high conversion rate (although the exact rate was unavailable). The company says record-level ROI results were achieved, reducing Intraware's member acquisition costs by 97%.

Barry Peters, director of emerging media for Lot21, the agency that created and ran the campaign, admits that part of the campaign's success was due to the "wow" factor, since this had never been done before. But perhaps more important, there was a good penetration of IT professionals with Palm PDAs, and the ads weren't as intrusive as flashy pop-ups would have been. When asked if the same results would be possible today, Peters says yes, since more targeting is available and banners could be used, even though costs would be higher.

Bill McCloskey, head of new media consultancy Emerging Interest, notes that the PDA has much more advertising potential than a cell phone due to its size, and that ads on AvantGo and Vindigo (a similar service) are doing well in general. "The ads on Vindigo are simple text now, and most are repeat customers at standard rates," says McCloskey. He adds that high-conversion rates are possible with context-sensitive ads, as in this case.

"The total AvantGo audience isn't huge, but advertising can be highly targeted," explains Jupiter Media Metrix wireless analyst Joe Laszlo. "We're also moving toward pricing based on response, which can help." Both analysts seem to agree that venues such as AvantGo are good for B2B ads, along with other tech portals such as CNET. They do point out that not all B2B situations may be good for wireless, stressing the need to evaluate each case and pay close attention to targeting ability.

So while we may not hear as much about them or see them as particularly sexy, B2B wireless campaigns seem to have promise. Anyway, now I'm off to read that article on the new wireless entertainment venture I remember seeing…

About David Cotriss
David Cotriss is a freelance writer covering e-commerce and new media topics for many local and national publications. He specializes in wireless and interactive television marketing and advertising.

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