Music to Advertisers’ Ears: Webcasts, Part 2

Corporate Webcasts can be dull. Ask around and I’m sure you’ll hear talk of a few that bored viewers almost to tears. Face it, few executives are as interesting to watch as Steve Jobs. Even fewer have something as exciting to discuss online.

Some business-themed Webcasts do manage to surmount this common obstacle. I’m not talking about footage of NBC covering Google’s purchase of YouTube on the Nightly News, though the network’s broadcast of its TV programming online may be the most true to Webcasting’s original concept.

Instead, the Webcasts I’m referring to deliver anticipated financial results from company quarterly reports. They recap white papers, books, and studies that have real industry value. And they offer access to exclusive corporate events that would otherwise be experienced only by a select group of insiders.

From a marketing perspective, there are essentially two approaches to working with these types of Webcasts. The right one for you depends entirely on your objectives and your flexibility as a media buyer.

Buyers and planners, meet the Webcast sponsorship. Usually, your authority is limited to traditional online media placements. These initiatives tends to involve a variety of conventional ad units, such as pre-roll and post-roll video ads, logo placements, leaderboards, and rectangle banners.

The placements may be familiar. But like sponsoring site sections, the challenge lies in aligning yourself not just with an appealing Web property but with suitable content as well. The Webcast you sponsor should be relevant to your business. If you’re a tech company, for example, you might look for video of a conference on cutting-edge IT.

As they’re familiar with sponsorships of all kinds (TV, after all, has its fair share), viewers associate you with the Webcast content’s theme. This is a great opportunity to improve awareness of a new product or enhance your credibility in a certain field. Just be wary of content that could cast your business in a negative light.

Popular business site Forbes.com counts Webcast sponsorship and related ad opportunities among its In-Program Video Advertising offerings. At the Forbes Conferences site currently, visitors can view Webcasts that encompass everything from an interview with the CEO of Siemens to Web-exclusive market updates produced expressly for the Forbes.com Video Network.

IT management site Computerworld offers entire series’ of Webcasts on such topics as business intelligence, attracting advertisers like SAS and Intel in the process. Its sponsorships are more subdued, primarily limited to logos and attribution within related articles. Yet it, too, benefits from aligning itself with quality content delivered in an engaging manner.

Buyers whose mandates extend to marketing opportunities involving more extensive resources can consider a second type of Webcast: customized. Created in tandem with a popular business site, some of which provide Webcast production services through companies like Accela Communications, custom Webcasts can be highly effective at promoting a product or service and at reaching C-level executives.

Typically, sites distribute the finished product through their own properties, leveraging their existing audience base. Banner, text, and e-mail ads are also used to generate traffic. Both data capture and reporting are included in the package.

Don’t expect custom Webcasts to come cheap, though; they can run upwards of $75,000. Although volume discounts are often available, the endeavor can still be a costly one. Is it worth it? A good many marketers will tell you it is, as it allows the advertiser to have complete control. Ensuring relevancy of content and effectively evading dry material isn’t as much of an issue when you’re overseeing the production of that material yourself.

Before you dismiss this advertising opportunity for fear of investing in something that lacks spark, consider that not as a downfall but as a benefit of this medium. Done right, corporate Webcast sponsorships can actually be more engaging than the Webcast itself.

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