Content sites targeting a business audience are many, but CNET Networks identified a need for a central resource to inform business managers about operations and business practices. After two years listening to readers in beta, CNET is now bringing its mid- to high-level management-focused site BNET out of beta.
“We see the competitive set as not that well populated,” said Stephen Howard-Sarin, VP of products for CNET Networks Business. “While there are some great and powerful business brands, they are for the most part serving industry needs… stuff we can categorize as business sports.”
The site covers three key areas: management, strategy and work life. Content is packaged as features, how-two guides, best-practices, and business basics. In addition to editorial content, BNET has a business library of white papers, case studies, Webcasts, and other interactive packages; a business terms directory; blogs; and other Web 2.0 features like RSS alerts, link-saving and sharing, community features, content voting, and personalization features.
“One of the advantages is we’ve built these sites before, have expertise, and know how to make things work,” said Howard-Sarin. “Business users are very interested, but concerned about privacy, confidentiality of their company’s information in a way MySpace folks are not concerned.”
The community aspects and the nature of the site make it a lead generation venue. The BNET business library, according to Howard-Sarin, services over 100,000 potential leads per month. “This is one thing we’re inheriting from our earlier work. The leads are a great example of the dynamic we are hoping will infect the entire experience.”
Advertising units include standard IMU-sized media, text links, rich media units, and site and section sponsorships. Site sponsorships include a page-curl or page-turn unit, video units, and button sponsorships. Opportunities to run ads in podcasts and e-mail also exist. BNET will have a launch sponsor with a presence on every page.
Howard-Sarin feels the audience is more engaged, and receptive to responding to advertising. “The entire BNET product has been built to serve people at work, solving problems, who are highly engaged with the business of business,” he said. “If you want to reach business users, go to Yahoo Mail where the context matters. They’re not thinking about business there, you’re buying audience by the pound. [At BNET you] reach users when they are receptive to business solutions.”
BNET is part of the CNET Networks Business group, which includes ZDNet and TechRepublic. Over the two-year development period, CNET partnered with Nielsen//NetRatings to identify top management issues and compare available resources. Research determined comparable sites such as Inc.com and Allbusiness.com were “not about excelling at work, doing better, and succeeding in something you care about,” said Howard-Sarin.
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