Sun Pushes Network Computing Initiative Online

Sun Microsystems, employing the “dayparting” technique publishers have lately been touting, turned to the Internet to hype its new Network Computing launch event on Monday.

“In terms of getting to people to be aware [of the Web cast], we took targeted media in terms of online,” said Scott Kraft, Sun’s vice president of marketing. “That is where our audience lives.”

The main thrust of Sun’s campaign was a site takeover of Forbes.com between 9 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., encouraging site visitors to view presentations by Sun CEO Scott McNealy and other company executives at the Sun Web site beginning at 9:30 a.m. In advance of the presentation, similar banner ads ran on other business-related sites, including Yahoo Finance and some key technology sites — all of them timed to coincide with the presentation and using language that encouraged viewers to click “right now” to see the big news.

“It’s a first for us,” said Jim Spanfeller, Forbes.com president and chief executive. “The advantage of it is it can pinpoint someone at the right time.”

Unfortunately, although much of the media seemed geared toward attracting traffic for the live presentation, some of the ads on Yahoo exhorting viewers to click “right now” to go to the site appeared hours before the presentation actually began. It’s not clear whether this was a function of time zone differences (the event took place on Pacific Time) or whether the ads simply weren’t delivered correctly. Either way, the problem highlights the difficulty of executing an online campaign meant to be delivered during a specific time window.

The event itself took place in San Francisco, where McNealy hosted a splashy launch presentation for Sun’s new server products. The presentation was Webcast and archived, along with modules that allowed potential customers to explore each product in-depth on the site.

All of the presentations and modules were archived on the site for later viewing, so readers could go to the Sun site to experience the event at any time.

Kraft said the company first targeted frequent visitors to the Sun Web site with ads for Network Computing initiative there. In addition, Sun tapped into its database of 1 million-plus Sun customers through email announcements.

Kraft said Sun took a different advertising approach than competitors BEA and IBM. Instead of general brand advertising, he said Sun chooses to target advertising to its core audience: technology professionals and high-level executives.

“We’re very intent on getting our core audiences and getting them to know what we’re doing,” he said.

Gary Stein, an analyst with Jupiter Research, which is owned by the parent company of this site, said the key to campaigns such as this is the creation of an event to attract consumer attention in the first place.

“You can’t just say, ‘Let’s think about Pepsi for 10 minutes,'” he said. “If you can create an event, it’s a good thing.”

Kraft said the company did not have final numbers on the number of Webcast viewers, but estimated it would be over 100,000.

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