BTG Service Pushes Data to Federal Market
BTG Service Pushes Data to Federal Market
By John Makulowich
BTG has a new information service that could give competitors a serious run for their money and help advertisers get a sharper focus on their target audience.
In the process, BTG Inc., Fairfax, Va., also refined the notion of what it means to market to the government and the hoard of vendors and contractors.
Named Government Insider and part of the PointCast Business Network, the free service is profiled as "Your desktop newscast to the federal government," broadcasting the latest information to subscribers, both over the Internet and on intranets.
The formal launch of Government Insider on Nov. 11 followed its beta debut last June. It is just the first of what the popular desktop Internet push service, PointCast, plans as a series of industry insider editions using its push technology. In the works are push information services for automotive and real estate industries.
Government Insider effectively broadcasts or rebroadcasts content from federal agencies at no cost, often formatting news releases and making them accessible from a central site. BTG officials say they often go back and ask agency officials if they want to be more proactive and how they would like their materials presented. Currently, the service covers about 24 agencies.
William Loomis, equity analyst for Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., Baltimore, said, "What BTG is about is desktop sales and support. This is an excellent means of keeping their name in front of customers in an arena they already serve. The tie-in of Government Insider with PointCast is thus a bonus for them and reinforces their position in the marketplace."
PointCast Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., was founded in 1992 to provide current news and information services to viewers and corporations via the Internet and corporate intranets. BTG partnered with PointCast, whose Business Network has more than one million active viewers, to create its own branded channels for the federal government. The service currently includes several channels, including Defense, Legislative, Agencies, FCC, NASA, Procurement, NIST and Technology.
PointCast competitors include Marimba's Castanet in Palo Alto, Calif.; MyWay Online Inc.'s MyWay in Cambridge, Mass.; Internet Explorer 4.0 MSNBC News Alert in Redmond, Wash.; and Netscape Communicator 4.0 Netcaster Channels and In-Box Direct in Mountain View, Calif.
James Scampavia, FedCast marketing manager for BTG, said the economic model for the service is commercial TV and radio - the advertisers support the free service to consumers. What is different is how narrowly defined the audience can be, for example, targeting readers of information on the NASA Mars probe effort. Each channel will have a marketplace and offer advertisers opportunities for infomercials and product and service announcements.
James Scampavia, FedCast marketing manager for BTG Inc.
"Our goal is to build the base of users, which can then attract advertisers. For us, users are anyone who has a significant relationship with the federal government or federal funding. While there is a smaller level of traffic, it is highly qualified and personalized. At bottom, what we offer the user is a desktop organizer to the World Wide Web," said Scampavia.
Scampavia admits that no company has thus far committed to advertise, but said he is in discussions with several that are close to signing.
Users connecting to the PointCast service (www.pointcast.com) will now see Government Insider as one of the formats in which they can receive selected information, specifically about the federal government. Government Insider provides the same features and content as the news and information service PointCast, plus its federal "channels" or news areas.
Scampavia himself joined the program last March, but he points out that BTG approached PointCast about a year ago about the possibility of developing a vertical market for the federal government.
On the advertising side, Government Insider offers two levels: banner and animated, Scampavia said. The banner is the standard PointCast model, a billboard on the page. With animated, each channel is broken into subchannels, or "tabs," that companies can target with their content.
"Soon we will introduce a new round of channels and more topical information across agencies. This will offer organizations a broader base from which they can pick and choose the channels to advertise on," said Scampavia.
He feels one of the bigger challenges in working with the federal government is not the lack of content, but the lack of good news content, that is, value-added information that individuals can use that is informative and fresh and fits with the dynamic push model.