Featured Articles from Interactive Briefing

Interactive Briefing, the newsletter of the Web Marketing Association, featured two articles this month:

How
Tradeshows can benefit from going Virtual
– Trade show are a great way
to meet with a lot of vendor and learn about current trends. Here’s a case study
about one group that is bringing their tradeshows to a computer near
you.

 

Bringing
out a sites personality
— Currentsite.com is a branding tool,
interactive playground and an award winner.


Media coverage of Web Marketing Association’s ISAR Study

Last week, the Web Marketing Association released the Internet Standards Assessment Report, a landmark study of web development benchmarks across 81 industries. We are pleased to report that many leading publications have already picked up on the report, including:

AdRants – Gaming Sites On Top, PR Sites On Bottom of Website
Effectiveness Study

http://www.adrants.com/2006/03/gaming-sites-on-top-pr-sites-on-bottom-of.php

MarketingVox – 10-Year Study Establishes Website Development
Benchmarks

http://www.marketingvox.com/archives/2006/03/16/10year_study_establishes_website_development_benchmarks/

Adotas – Study Dissects Web Trends Across 80 Industries

http://www.adotas.com/2006/03/study-dissects-web-trends-across-80-industries/

WebProNews – Gaming Sites, Great; PR Sites, No

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/topnews/wpn-60-20060316GamingSitesGreatPRSitesNo.html

eComXpo Virtual Conference

The Web Marketing Association will be participating in
several of the leading industry conferences this year. Here is your opportunity
to participate in important educational sessions while networking with other
industry professionals. Here a leading industry conference that we
recommend.

eComXpo
April 4-6, 2006
100% Online & Virtual, eComXpo
will bring together more than 7,000 advertisers, publishers, search marketers,
merchants, affiliates, webmasters, agencies and vendors, making this the world’s
largest tradeshow for eCommerce Marketers. All the benefits of a top tradeshow
can be attained from the comfort of your home or office. View interactive
presentations from industry luminaries, enter to win valuable prizes, and
network with exhibitors and attendees! Attending the event is completely free,
and registration is now open at www.eComXpo.com

Perseus Named WebAward Sponsor

Perseus Development Corporation, the
global leader in web survey software and Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM)
solutions, has been named a 2006 sponsor of the Web Marketing Association’s 10th
annual WebAward Competition The WebAwards is the standards-defining competition
that sets industry benchmarks based on the seven criteria of a successful Web
site.    

"We are pleased to have Perseus helping us to promote the WebAward
Competition again this year," said William Rice, President of the Web
Marketing Association. "We use
Perseus SurveySolutions® to gather feedback from participants and
judges and use this information to make the next year’s program even
better. Perseus makes it easy for us to
create, execute and analyze customized surveys that allow us to better
understand the needs of the online marketing community."

"Feedback is critical for an organization to understand the needs of
its key audiences, and the participation in award competitions is a valuable
form of feedback," said Dwight Galler, Vice President of Marketing at
Perseus. "Winning a WebAward not
only provides valuable feedback from expert judges, but also gives companies a
valuable marketing tool and shows company management that their Internet
investments are on the right track. We
are pleased to support the efforts of the Web Marketing Association and the
WebAward program."

Perseus is leading the transition from web survey systems to Enterprise
Feedback Management (EFM) solutions that help organizations better understand
their world. Organizations worldwide rely on Perseus solutions to better
identify and meet employee, customer and partner needs, and increase
profitability by creating loyal relationships.. Perseus products enable
business professionals to quickly and easily obtain, analyze, and manage
sophisticated enterprise feedback using intuitive web-based software. Perseus
SurveySolutions is a recipient of PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice award for
web-survey software, and is used by over 18,000 customers worldwide including
over twenty-percent of the Fortune 100. Perseus is a 2003 and 2004 Inc. 500
company and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 company, and a four-time Deloitte
Technology Fast 50 company. (www.perseus.com).

OMMA Conference

The Web Marketing Association will be participating in several of the leading industry conferences this year. Here is your opportunity to participate in important educational sessions while networking with other industry professionals. Here a leading industry conference that we recommend.

OMMA Conference
March 27-28, Hilton Universal City, Hollywood CA
As online media, marketing and advertising rapidly rise in prominence the industry is experiencing a profound shift in media mix models, with marketers committing ever more resources to digital media and marketing programs including online brand advertising and promotion, search programs, interactive video, e-mail, RSS, podcast, and blog marketing, and a host of other emerging platforms. This conference will feature industry experts exploring these issues and more. To learn more go to OMMA Conference

Visit us at booth #105 at the OMMA Conference and learn more about the 2006 WebAward Competition.

OMMA Conference

The Web Marketing Association will be participating in
several of the leading industry conferences this year. Here is your opportunity
to participate in important educational sessions while networking with other
industry professionals. Here a leading industry conference that we
recommend.

OMMA Conference
March 27-28, Hilton Universal
City, Hollywood CA
As online media, marketing and advertising rapidly
rise in prominence the industry is experiencing a profound shift in media mix
models, with marketers committing ever more resources to digital media and
marketing programs including online brand advertising and promotion, search
programs, interactive video, e-mail, RSS, podcast, and blog marketing, and a
host of other emerging platforms. This conference will feature industry experts
exploring these issues and more. To learn more go to OMMA
Conference

Visit us at booth #105 at the OMMA Conference and learn more about the 2006 WebAward Competition.

New WebAward.org site

If you have not seen it yet, WebAward.org has been designed and reengineered to meet the growing needs of the awards. Now you can create a single account and enter multiple entries and always know the status of your entries. Special thanks to everyone who worked long hours getting this site ready to launch, especially Jeff Freedman at Small Army for the great new design and Chip Lowell for the round the clock programming efforts to write and test the code for all of the new functionality of the site. The call for Entries will begin in earnest shortly, although the entry form is now on the site.

New WebAward.org site

If you have not seen it yet, WebAward.org
has been designed and reengineered to meet the growing needs of the awards. Now
you can create a single account and enter multiple entries and always know the
status of your entries. Special thanks to everyone who worked long hours getting
this site ready to launch, especially Jeff Freedman at Small Army for the great
new design and Chip Lowell for the round the clock programming efforts to write
and test the code for all of the new functionality of the site. The call for
Entries will begin in earnest shortly, although the entry form is now on the
site.

Register.com Named WebAward Sponsor

Global domain name registration and Web business services provider,
Register.com, has been named a 2006 sponsor of the Web Marketing Association’s 10th
annual WebAward Competition. The WebAwards is the standards-defining
competition that sets industry benchmarks based on the seven criteria of a
successful Web site.  It recognizes the
individual and team achievements of Web professionals who create and maintain outstanding
corporate Web sites. The 2006 WebAward Call for Entries will begin April 2, 2006 at www.webaward.org.

"Register.com is a leader in providing services and domain
names to Web professionals and small businesses. We are excited that we will be
working with them to promote the WebAward Competition this year," said
William Rice, president of the Web Marketing Association. "The
WebAward.org domain has been with Register.com since the WMA was founded in
1997. Register.com has a stellar reputation for seeking out and providing the
best services to business owners and Web professionals and we are delighted to
work with them."

"In addition to fostering the online interests of small business owners
and assisting them with their Web needs, helping to support the online
marketing community is an important part of Register.com’s philosophy," said
Monica Hodges, general manager of Retail at Register.com. "We recognize
the value of participating in a program such as the WebAwards and believe that
the expert feedback participants receive is invaluable. Moreover, winning an
award provides businesses with a valuable marketing tool and demonstrates to company
management that their online investments are on the right track. We are pleased
to support the efforts of the Web Marketing Association and the WebAward
program."

Register.com, Inc. is a leading provider of global domain name
registration and Internet services for businesses and consumers that wish to
have a unique address and branded identity on the Internet. With approximately
three million domain names under management, Register.com has built a brand
based on high-quality domain name management services for small and medium
sized businesses, large corporations, as well as ISPs, telcos and other online
businesses. Register.com’s call center was certified in 2005 by J.D. Power and
Associates for providing “an outstanding customer experience.” The company was
founded in 1994 and is based in New York. To experience the Register.com difference in customer service, call toll-free 1-888-REGISTER or visit the company online at (www.register.com).

Internet Study Sets Industry Benchmarks for 10 Years of Web Site Development

The Web Marketing Association, sponsor of the annual international WebAward competition (www.Webawards2006.org), today announced the findings of a decade-long study of Web development trends across more than 80 industries. The resulting Internet Standards Assessment Report (ISAR) provides industry benchmarks for Web site development and is based on data collected from nearly 10,000 Web site evaluations. A copy of the full report can be downloaded at http://www.webaward.org/isar_report.asp.

The WebAward competition is the only major award program to provide an in-depth, quantitative analysis of results to develop standards of excellence for future development. The results evaluate average scores in each industry against defined benchmarks in seven categories, including design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use.

“According to our professional judges, design, ease-of-use and innovation are the most important contributors to a Web site’s success or failure,” said William Rice, president of the Web Marketing Association. “However, our results found that industries overall excelled in content and copywriting over design and ease-of-use, which may close the door to many users. Innovation, while critical to a Web site’s success, actually received the lowest average scores across all industries. We believe this is due to the fact that innovation is so elusive and difficult to maintain – what is groundbreaking in one industry may be commonplace in another.”

The report reveals that gaming Web sites dominate the top scores in every category, followed by music, which placed second overall, and automobile and sports Web sites, which tied for third place. The industries with the lowest average Web site scores included radio, public relations and search engines.

Top Industries

The consumer-focused sites which led the industry rankings over the last decade feature vibrant content aimed at migrating the brand experience online and building online communities. In addition, these industries excel because of the need to meet high audience expectations that almost demand that sites be on the cutting edge of Web development. For example:

· Gaming Sites: These sites feature experienced designers who understand the intricacies of Flash animation and the benefits of online communities, including message boards and chat features. Targeted to a younger audience, these sites focus on providing a user experience that is on par with the actual gaming experience. Recent best of industry winners include: Star Wars Mercenaries Game Site, SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs and Disney’s Hot Shot Business.

· Music Sites: Users come to music sites for the content, but they stay for the experience. According to Rice, “Music sites have conquered the age-old dilemma regarding the use of technology, where too little equals boring and too much means the site can be overwhelming. The music sites we’ve evaluated over the years have demonstrated the ability to build a loyal following by effective uses of technology to stream rich media content without sacrificing usability.” Recent best of industry winners include: Red Bull Music Labs, Sting: Public & Pay Member Site and Live365.

· Automobile Sites: One of the most hotly contested industries, automobile sites realized early that customers were most likely to engage an auto brand in the privacy of their home or office, rather than in a showroom with a commission-driven sales person. As a result, this is one of the few industries that has beaten the average scores for the WebAwards every year since the competition’s inception. Recent best of industry winners include: Volkswagen 2005, Toyota Scion and The all-new XJ online campaign.

· Sports Sites. These sites benefit from a fanatical fan base who count on their favorite Web sites to stay in-the-know about sporting news and events. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this industry ranked highest in the areas of design and content. Recent best of industry winners include: Nike Basketball, RBK Sound and Rhythm and Prince Tennis Website.

“As Internet bandwidth developed, so did the ability for Web sites to deliver a dynamic rich media experience that merges online entertainment with e-commerce to create a compelling interaction for users,” added Rice. “While content is still king, it’s a Web site’s ability to interact with users in interesting ways that keeps an audience coming back.”

Other noteworthy industries include retail, healthcare and travel. Retail-oriented sites, including shopping, auctions and catalogs, ranked highest for interactivity. These sites allow for personalized cross-selling and detailed product information which are not always available in print catalogs or off-line stores. Similar to the automobile industry, the retail industry has succeeded by maintaining its off-line brand presence online.

In the healthcare and travel industries, content, copywriting and ease-of-use dominated the scores due to recent changes in industry dynamics. “An important trend we’re seeing in healthcare and travel is disintermediation,” said Rice. “For example, the healthcare industry previously relied completely on service providers for patient interaction, but new legislation has opened the door for direct-to-consumer initiatives. As a result, the healthcare industry has become very competitive in the areas of content and copywriting as consumers are turning to these sites to become better informed before deciding on a course of action with their doctors.”

“A similar scenario exists in the travel and leisure industry, with the practical elimination of travel agents,” continued Rice. “These Web sites have demonstrated a strong showing in both copywriting and ease-of-use as Web sites integrate effective copy with strong images to create a lifestyle experience for the user, allowing them to make better choices for themselves.”

Bottom Industries

The industries with the lowest average Web site scores included radio, public relations and search engines. These sites tend to concentrate more on content than delivery platform, often forcing too much information into too little space, which hinders design and ease-of-use. For example:

· Radio Sites. These sites rank particularly low in the areas of innovation and use of technology. This is surprising given the industry’s ability to harness rich media similar to music sites. While radio station sites can draw upon music for content, they often try to cram their homepages with so many options that users can feel lost and overwhelmed.

· Public Relations Sites. While advertising sites excelled in design and innovation, public relations sites ranked low across all categories. Notably, public relations scored lowest for copywriting, even though it is an industry known for effective communication. According to Rice, “It’s likely that PR practitioners focus more on developing their clients’ sites, while their own sites suffer from typical ‘brochure-ware.’ Another possibility is that the low scores reflect the informal nature of the Internet and the backlash over over-edited, corporate speak.”

· Search Engine Sites. While search engines are dominating the buzz around the Internet industry as a whole, these sites rank lower than average in every category, except ease-of-use. In fact, search engines received the lowest scores for use of technology even though the behind-the-scenes technology driving search engines is so sophisticated. These low scores can be attributed to the spartan nature of most search engines which allow the results to speak for themselves.

“Of course, in every industry, there are Web sites that stand out and others that don’t make the grade,” concluded Rice. “Our goal has always been to be more than just a popularity or beauty contest that rewards brand names and good design. Instead, this report is designed to take a decade’s worth of judging scores to define what Internet marketing professionals should strive for in their Web site development efforts.”

About the WebAwards

The 10th annual international WebAwards competition sets the standard of excellence in 95 industry categories by evaluating Web sites and defining benchmarks based on the seven essential criteria of successful Web site development. The goal of the Web Marketing Association, sponsor of the WebAwards, is to provide a forum to recognize the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective Web sites on the Internet today. Entrants benefit from a Web site assessment by a professional judging panel and the marketing opportunities presented to an award-winning Web site. For more information, visit www.webawards2006.org.

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