Twitter/RussiniIn just a few short weeks, Dianna Russini, a 32-year-old former sports anchor for NBC Washington, will be making her debut for ESPN. The news was announced back in mid-May, and Russini recently finished up her last day with her former employer. She’s expected to be an anchor for the Worldwide Leader’s SportsCenter program. How often she’ll be featured is still a mystery.Where is she from? How did she get her career started? Is she single? We’ve got all of those answers and more, along with a few photos of the rising star. In Photos: Everything You Need To Know About ESPN’s Dianna Russini >>>Pages: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7
AUBURN, AL – SEPTEMBER 17: Auburn Tigers play the Texas A&M Aggies during an NCAA college football game on September 17, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)D’haquille Williams, one of the SEC’s top receivers, has left Auburn’s game against Jacksonville State after taking a nasty shot from the Gamecocks defense. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson tried to hit Williams over the middle, but he was unable to hang on, and got drilled by linebacker Dawson Wells. Williams went down after the play, but was able to slowly walk off the field.Not sure how Gus Malzahn would convince anyone this was targeting on Duke Williams. pic.twitter.com/MBVuroWsy8— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 12, 2015Gus Malzahn is furious no targeting call and points to new huge Auburn scoreboard with replay. pic.twitter.com/bdI4KTDzpb— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) September 12, 2015It doesn’t look like targeting, but we can understand Malzahn being in up only three against an FCS team and losing arguably his best playmaker down the stretch. We’ll keep you updated on Williams’ status.
TORONTO – Wall Street set another record high Tuesday on relatively minor movements as Canada’s largest stock index inched forward and the loonie cleared 80 cents US.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 84.07 points to 22,641.67. The S&P 500 index edged up 5.46 points to 2,534.58 and the Nasdaq composite index added 14.99 points to 6,531.71.North of the border, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index advanced 23.51 points to 15,728.51.“It’s a little sleepy today, pretty slow,” said Cavan Yie, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “All you’re seeing is optimism in the markets being sustained.”“If you look at Canada,” Yie added, “the banks keep chugging along with share prices near all-time highs, with solid fundamentals to support them.”The TSX’s financials subsector was up nearly half a percentage point on Tuesday.Looking ahead to Friday, investors will be eyeing Statistics Canada’s labour force survey for September.RBC Economics Research has said Canadian employment is expected to continue to increase that month, rising 10,000 though this would be down from the 22,000 increase in August.“The slowing largely reflects the expectation that the gain in service-producing jobs drops to just 5,000 after the 35,900 surge in August,” it said in an investor’s note.Meanwhile, some U.S. economic reports may look abnormally weak because of the hurricanes that have recently struck the United States, such as this week’s upcoming report on hiring. But investors are expecting to see temporarily weaker numbers, which would limit the impact.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 80 cents US, up 0.03 of a cent.The November crude contract fell 16 cents to US$50.42 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down two cents at US$2.90 per mmBTU.The December gold contract gave back $1.20 cents to US$1,274.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was unchanged at US$2.96 a pound.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.
SHANGHAI – It was looking like a banner year for business in China. The U.S. clothing company was expecting a 20 per cent jump in online sales on Alibaba’s Tmall, thanks to the e-commerce giant’s massive reach.But executives soon learned that what Alibaba gives, it can also take away.The company refused to sign an exclusive contract with Alibaba, and instead participated in a big sale promotion with its archrival, JD.com Inc. Tmall punished them by taking steps to cut traffic to their storefront, two executives told The Associated Press. They said advertising banners vanished from prominent spots in Tmall sales showrooms, the company was blocked from special sales and products stopped appearing in top search results.The well-known American brand saw its Tmall sales plummet 10 to 20 per cent for the year.“Based on our sales record, we should have been in a prominent position, but we were at the bottom of the page,” said the brand’s e-commerce director, who spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of further retaliation. “That’s a clear manipulation of traffic. That’s a clear punishment.”As the Trump administration pushes China to play by fair trade rules, companies are caught in a quieter but no less crucial struggle for fair access to a $610 billion online marketplace, an AP investigation has found.Executives from five major consumer brands told the AP that after they refused to enter exclusive partnerships with Alibaba, traffic to their Tmall storefronts fell, hurting sales. Three are American companies with billions in annual sales that rely on China for growth.In a statement, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said pursuing exclusive deals is a common industry practice and called the charges of coercion “completely false.”“Alibaba and Tmall conduct business in full compliance with Chinese laws,” Alibaba said. “Like many e-commerce platforms, we have exclusive partnerships with some of the merchants on Tmall. The merchant decides to choose such an arrangement because of the attractive services and value Tmall brings to them.”Imagine a company twice as profitable as Amazon that each year serves more people than live in all of North America. That’s Alibaba. It claims to be the marketplace for nearly $550 billion a year in sales — more than is sold online in the entire U.S. economy.The trials of the affected companies offer a rare window onto a bruising business culture forged in China that could spread as Alibaba takes its aggressive, innovative and hugely profitable model of e-commerce global. To the extent that their products are manufactured in the United States — and some are — constricting sales in China’s critical growth market can also deepen the imbalance of trade between China and the U.S., a gap that is a top concern for the Trump administration.The competition between Alibaba and JD.com is so infamous in China — and so dirty — it’s been dubbed the “great cat-and-dog war,” after Tmall’s black-cat mascot and JD.com’s white dog.The executives spoke to the AP only on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, but their concerns were echoed by a U.S. industry group, brand consultants and policy makers in China and JD.com itself.In a speech about cyberspace last week, Chinese president Xi Jinping said ensuring free and fair competition online was a regulatory priority, citing the need “to cultivate a fair market environment, strengthen intellectual property protection, and oppose monopoly and unfair competition,” state media reported.In its months-long investigation, the AP interviewed more than 30 people and reviewed two contracts from Alibaba that contained previously unreported exclusivity clauses. The AP found that the platforms that control access to Chinese consumers online wield such enormous power that even multibillion-dollar foreign companies can have trouble fighting back.“We urge the authorities to quickly investigate and take steps to ensure such practices are eliminated from the growing Chinese marketplace,” said Stephen Lamar, executive vice-president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, adding that members of his industry group had complained about unfair competitive practices by Alibaba.JD.com is a member and sponsor of the trade group.Wang Hongbo, a consultant who helps Chinese brands sell online abroad, echoed the problems cited by the companies who spoke to AP.“Many brands complained about this to us. Because they didn’t fall in line, they faced restrictions on Tmall,” he said.It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s actions would be illegal, nor is it certain that the evidence of coercion that brands have managed to collect would hold up in court. Under China’s anti-monopoly laws, companies that dominate a market cannot demand exclusivity without justification. A 2015 regulation also specifically bars e-commerce platforms from restricting brands’ participation in promotions on other platforms.The rules are designed to prevent dominant players from squeezing out the competition, which could ultimately hurt both brands and consumers by giving a single, monopolistic player absolute control over prices.JD.com said that over 100 Chinese brands defected last year due to pressure from its main rival, an assertion Alibaba and some brands have contested. The exodus appears to have had a lasting impact.“Based on the feedbacks we received from these merchants, the move was mainly due to the coercive tactics from our competition, which if proven true would be illegal and clearly against the merchants’ will,” said Sidney Huang, JD.com’s chief financial officer, said in a November earnings call.Peacebird, a Chinese fashion company, is among those that left JD.com last year. But Weng Jianghong, the company’s general manager of e-commerce, said Alibaba had not coerced them and the decision to focus on Tmall was strategic.“We will centralize and develop the limited resources of our company on Tmall,” he said.Many companies, including JD.com, do exclusive deals. However, JD.com maintains that it doesn’t strategically push merchants for exclusivity.“We support fair and open competition because greater choice is always better for brands and users,” JD.com said in a statement. “We are winning over customers by providing a superior shopping experience, rather than by limiting the options of brands or consumers.”JD.com is still trying to get brands to return. “We do believe there will be more merchants coming back,” Huang said in a call last month with analysts. “But I do not expect a very quick fix.”PLAY OR PAYTmall controlled six of every 10 dollars spent overall for business-to-consumer sales online in China in the second half of last year — and even more for sectors like apparel — giving it enormous power over companies that rely on Alibaba for access to Chinese consumers online.The contracts reviewed by AP offered a suite of benefits in exchange for exclusivity. One contract specified that brands must not operate storefronts on other e-commerce platforms without Tmall’s written permission. The other contract mandated that new products not be launched on competing platforms and barred brands from sales promotions on other platforms without Tmall’s written permission.Such sales events are the lifeblood of online commerce in China. The country’s massive Singles Day promotion in November, which started as an anti-Valentine’s Day gimmick, is now the world’s largest e-commerce event. Last year, Alibaba said $25 billion worth of merchandise was sold on its platforms alone, compared with just $14.5 billion in total online sales in the U.S. for Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, according to data from Adobe Systems Inc.Brands cited commercial, ideological and legal reasons for refusing to cut off business with JD.com.Some said that different people shop in different ways on JD.com and Tmall, so cutting off JD.com means cutting off access to a pool of potential shoppers.“It’s clear from the data we look at these are distinct consumer pools,” said the China head of a publicly-traded company. “If I lost the JD business I would lose a certain part of that business. Another part is on principle: This is blatant anticompetitive behaviour.”Others cited legal concerns. “We didn’t want to go for it in part because we thought it might be an illegal agreement in restraint of trade,” said an executive for a second publicly-traded company.“We’re chided when we participate in promotional events on other platforms,” he added. “What’s never said but actually happens when we don’t co-operate in the way they want us to is our traffic falls. It’s not a coincidence.”Two companies said they granted concessions to Alibaba, agreeing to exclusive product launches, raising their prices on JD.com, or removing ads promoting JD.com sales. Traffic to their Tmall shops rebounded. One company said it ultimately closed its flagship on JD.com to salvage Tmall sales.“You have to go beg,” said the China director of a multi-billion dollar publicly-traded company.THE GREAT CAT-AND-DOG WARTmall and JD.com have different business models but they are increasingly pushing onto each other’s turf.Alibaba’s online marketplaces connect buyers and sellers. Alibaba earns money from advertising, as well as commissions and fees. JD.com runs a similar marketplace but, like Amazon, also buys products from brands, then sells and distributes the merchandise itself.Alibaba has taken aim at JD.com’s long-standing dominance in electronics, while JD.com hopes to cut into Tmall’s core apparel category. Both have expanded into groceries and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into acquisitions to extend their reach into brick-and-mortar businesses.The result is an escalating turf fight that carries a chilling message for brands: Either you’re with us or against us. The Chinese have a name for this unwritten rule, “er xuan yi,” choose one of two.“‘Choose one of two’ is a tacit understanding that has been reached by everyone, but you do not say it directly,” said Zhuo Saijun, who until 2015 was a general manager of e-commerce research at Analysys Ltd., a Beijing-based big data consultancy. “This is certainly a problem for the development of retail sales channels. It is a business ethics problem, and this is how monopolies develop.”Some policymakers have raised concerns about monopolistic tendencies in Chinese e-commerce and called for more effective regulation and enforcement.“Unfair competition still exists,” Wang Bingnan, a deputy director at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said in a June speech about China’s e-commerce market. “Behaviours like forced ‘choose one of two,’” he added, “are hard for regulators to define, prove or deal with accurately.”JD.com has complained about anticompetitive tactics before. In 2015, the company filed a complaint with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, a corporate regulator, accusing Alibaba of pressuring brands into doing exclusive Singles Day sales promotions — a charge Alibaba denied. The complaint was kicked to a regional office in Zhejiang province, where Alibaba has its headquarters.Nothing more was ever heard about it.The regulators did not respond to requests for comment.Alibaba said that while JD.com focuses “on groundless complaints to explain why they are losing brands, we at Alibaba are squarely focused on making our platform the best for our merchants.”MR. MA GOES GLOBALThe battles now being waged within China’s e-commerce sector could well impact the culture and norms of e-commerce globally — at least if Alibaba’s chairman, Jack Ma, has his way.Alibaba aims to serve 2 billion consumers by 2036 — or about one in four people now on the planet. Already, the value of goods sold on Alibaba’s platforms in fiscal year 2017 was $547 billion, larger than the gross domestic product of Sweden.In June, Ma told investors that his company will rank as the fifth largest economy in the world. “Just say USA, China, Europe, maybe Japan and us,” Ma said.The company has been aggressively recruiting foreign brands to sell on its platforms, and they have come, in droves. Alibaba said it signed up 60,000 international brands for its massive Single’s Day sale in November, up from 5,000 in 2015.Alibaba’s retail sales outside of China also are growing fast — they more than doubled last fiscal year to 7.3 billion yuan ($1.1 billion), or 5 per cent of total revenue.America remains at the heart of Ma’s ambition. He told president-elect Donald Trump in Jan. 2017 that he would create a million U.S. jobs by facilitating trade between businesses in the U.S and consumers in China — a pledge he now says is imperiled by the brewing trade war between the two countries.Brands now caught in the great cat and dog war have adopted different strategies to avoid becoming collateral damage.An e-commerce manager at a major European brand said she’d be happy to offer totally different products on Tmall and JD.com to stay out of trouble, but worries her bosses won’t go for it because it cuts off potential buyers.Sometimes, she said, it feels “like we’re working for those platforms.”___Associated Press writer Anne D’Innocenzio in Las Vegas and researchers Si Chen and Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.Follow Kinetz on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ekinetzSend news tips, documents, etc. securely and confidentially to AP at https://securedrop.ap.org/
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday announced a list of TMC candidates for all the 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state, dropping 10 sitting MPs. She also attacked the BJP and the Modi government, claiming she had information that “VVIPs” were using helicopters and chartered flights to transport money to bribe voters. Releasing the list, the West Bengal leader assailed the Centre over a host of issues including the Rafale deal,farm distress and shrinking employment opportunities. Banerjee, also the TMC supremo, said the outgoing TMC lawmakers whose names do not figure in the list will be drafted for party work. She said 41 per cent of the nominees in the list are women. The TMC, she said, will also contest some seats in Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar and the Andamans.
Then-sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (10) celebrates during a game against Penn State on Oct. 31, 2014. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team began its 2015 home schedule on Labor Day weekend with a trio of wins to take first place in the 10th annual Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic at St. John Arena.OSU (5-1) topped Northern Iowa (3-3) and Florida State (3-3) in a doubleheader on Saturday before beating the Seminoles for a second time on Sunday.A proficient .387 attack percentage helped OSU capture its second win of the weekend over No. 14 Florida State in four sets (25-19, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21).Middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe led her team with 19 points, by way of 15 kills, five blocks (one solo) and an ace. After being named to her second consecutive all-tournament team, the junior said her confidence is high; both in herself and in her team. “(We’re) ready to show what we’ve got and I’m really looking forward to these upcoming weekends,” Sandbothe said. “I think people should look out for the Buckeyes.”Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell, who now is in her second season with OSU after transferring from Duke, led the team with 16 kills and also blocked four shots.Both OSU setters were used heavily, as freshman Taylor Hughes assisted on 24 Buckeye points and senior Emily Ruetter added 21 helpers.In the second game of the tournament, OSU won a back-and-forth match against No. 14 Florida State in five sets (21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 15-11).The story of the game for both teams was defense. OSU held the Seminoles to a .102 attack percentage and tallied 14 blocks. The Buckeyes were held to a .110 attack percentage and had 15.5 shots blocked.A big reason for the defensive success of OSU was libero Valeria León, who had 32 digs, the fourth-highest single-game total in school history and a personal best for the junior from Puerto Rico.“It’s easy when my teammates around me are doing their jobs,” León said. “So I just do whatever I can to win the games. Our team is doing a really good job and I’m just trying to do my part.”Sandbothe came up big for the Buckeyes’ defense as well, with seven blocks (three solo). She added 17 kills and two aces to lead the Buckeyes with 24 points.Campbell and Hughes contributed to the win with double-doubles.Campbell, who also broke the 20-point mark, had 20 kills and 11 digs to go along with three blocks (one solo).Hughes had 42 assists and 13 digs, providing the OSU offense with a spark after entering the game in the middle of the first set with her team struggling. The freshman also added four kills, four blocks and two aces.Before handling Florida State twice, OSU swept its first match of the weekend against Northern Illinois (25-21, 25-18, 25-14) and never trailed in the first or third set.The Buckeyes did trail for most of the second frame but mounted an impressive comeback. With Northern Illinois up 17-14, OSU went on an 11-1 run to take the set.Senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell helped to lead the Buckeyes, racking up 13 kills at a .250 attack percentage. Sandbothe had an efficient showing with 10 kills on a .625 attack percentage and three blocks.In her first game in St. John Arena, the Texas Tech transfer Ruetter had 30 assists, seven digs and four blocks.Sandbothe was named the tournament MVP thanks to her team-leading 55 points on 42 kills, 16 blocks and three aces. Campbell (45 kills, 25 digs) and León (58 digs) were also named to the all-tournament team.Sandbothe said she was proud of her team’s performance, but feels they have even more to show moving forward.“I think that we had a lot to prove today and we think we have a lot to still prove, but I was really proud of the way we came out and the heart we had and showed,” she said. “And winning MVP, having the greatest teammates, the greatest support staff, is really, really special.”OSU is set to head back out on the road next weekend as they take part in the Blackbird Invitational in Brooklyn, New York. The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on host LIU Brooklyn at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by matches against Syracuse at 10 a.m. and Arizona at 5 p.m., on Saturday.
Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez revealed that he will likely retire in the next few months as he approaches his 39th birthdayThe Spanish playmaker will reach the milestone in January and has recently been taking courses to obtain his UEFA’s Pro Licence for coaching.Xavi’s announcement comes as somewhat of a surprise given that he had signed a contract extension with current club Al Sadd until June 2020.However, Xavi is yet to make a formal announcement on his final plans.“This is 99 per cent my last season because, at nearly 39, it’s normal to be tired and need a change of course,” Xavi told Corriere dello Sport.Quiz: How much do you know about David Villa? Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 Time to test your knowledge about Spanish legendary forward David Villa.“It’s not yet the time for announcements or goodbyes, but I’ve thought clearly on what I will do.”The former Spain international joined the Doha-based club in 2015 and has since won three trophies at Qatar.Throughout his entire club career, Xavi has managed 102 goals and 206 assists in 836 games across all competitions for either Barcelona or Al Sadd to date.Xavi also won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship twice with Spain.
Everton forward Theo Walcott believes that there is never a good time to face Manchester United, regardless of their current strugglesThe Red Devils head into Sunday’s fixture at Old Trafford in 10th-place in the Premier League with just four wins from nine games.Their troubles only deepened on Tuesday, where they suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League with manager Jose Mourinho admitting afterwards they were outclassed by the Italians.On the other hand, Everton have won their last three league games and sit in eighth place in the standings and a point ahead of United.But Walcott knows better than to take the 20-time English champions lightly.“I don’t think it’s the best time playing Man United at any time, I really don’t,” Walcott told ESPN.“But we are in good spirits, we are in good form, we’re enjoying ourselves.“It’s obviously well documented [United’s struggles] but the players they have, it’s not going to be an easy game.Daniel Farke, From mid-table in the Championship to the Premier League Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Norwich City manager, Daniel Farke, has taken his team from the middle of the table in the English Championship to play with the big boys in the Premier League.“But we know our strengths, we know what to do to obviously keep the fans quiet, that’s the most important thing.“We need to focus on ourselves really, not them. We need to do the stuff that the manager drills into us every day in training and if we do that and if everyone works to the ability we know we can, we have a very good chance.”The former Arsenal player is wary of a response from United, after their defeat to Juventus, this weekend.“If you think that a team is not playing with confidence that’s probably when they are at their best,” added Walcott.“You may be going into the game a bit more relaxed and you don’t need that, not in these sorts of games.“Everyone needs to be fully focused because Man United is a massive game and this will see where we are at with them as well.”Walcott has contributed towards four goals in nine Premier League starts for Everton this season.
Better Leads Through ExclusivityForbes.com hosted its second annual “iconference” in June on the InXpo platform, which included 16 sessions over two days. The major change from 2008 is the targeted attendance of financial advisors—a “higher-level and more difficult conference to accomplish”—says Forbes Media vice president and investments editor, Matt Schifrin. The goal of the iconference was to draw a high-level audience (retail investors are the typical attendees), without charging a fee. For these highly-targeted advisor leads, Forbes was able to price sponsorship packages between $7,500 to $37,500.Forbes sent invites to select financial advisors. They then received a coupon code to attend the virtual event for free while Forbes charged $75 for attendees who joined without a code. The incentive for busy advisors? Ten continuing education credits awarded through the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards. In May, Nielsen’s Photo District News launched its first virtual tradeshow, powered by ON24, free for professional and advanced amateur photographers. The tradeshow consisted of two events held two weeks apart. The first day was designed for photography professionals; the second for a targeted “pro-sumers,” serious consumers interested in new technologies. This second event featured “a major e-commerce component in which attendees were be able to buy equipment directly within the virtual exhibit booths,” says Biener.While Biener tends to “shy away from [virtual event] bells and whistles,” PDN’s first foray into the photo marketplace had “enhancements and incorporated high-definition graphics and robust video” to appeal to more visual attendees as opposed to its typical b-to-b sector, content-focused attendees. The virtual event, launched strategically around Father’s Day (when the bulk of large photography purchases are made) attracted more than 18,500 registrants, with a follow-up series planned for later in 2009. Metrics That Woo AdvertisersWatt Publishing, a b-to-b publisher specializing in the agri-business market, ran its first virtual event in April with the InXpo platform. Besides using its Twitter integration, Jeff Miller, Watt’s director of e-strategy sales and marketing, says the company focused on learning how to use the metrics InXpo offers. “What we felt was helpful was not only looking at who was visiting the booths but the ability to create profiles based on the visitor’s actions in the environment itself,” says Miller. “At its core, this is a lead generation device.”While virtual events are developing stronger marketing plans and incentives for sponsors and exhibitors, Summit Business Media’s Futures, targeting futures, options and derivative traders, is considering upping the cost of entry for its i-Trade shows. Exhibitor booths are priced around $4,500.“We try and base this price on the cost per lead, which is tough to determine because we don’t have an exact number,” says Futures publisher and editorial director Ginger Szala. Currently, its virtual event silver sponsorships run $10,000 per show, with a $12,500 gold sponsorship offering sponsors the option of a separate speaking time that won’t conflict with the tradeshow’s pre-scheduled speakers.‘Conferences Will Never Be Replaced’A number of publishers have opted to forgo their live events this year due to cost restrictions and as a response to across-the-board cuts in travel budgets. However, Haymarket Media, which uses Unisfair’s platform, has decided to integrate both virtual and physical events for its SC Congress (a spin off of IT security title SC Magazine). Exhibitors at physical events will be able to buy a booth inside a year-round virtual environment for an additional fee, according to director of business development Tony Keefe. “We are trying to underpin our physical events by offering a guarantee to give sponsors and exhibitors more confidence,” he adds. Exhibitors are guaranteed at least one virtual event per month; on the low end, those who only buy a booth in the virtual environment are guaranteed 100 leads, according to Keefe. E-conference sponsors, which have their distinct speaking sessions in which they can address the audience, are guaranteed 500 leads, with no extra charge for more leads than that.Nielsen Business Media has grown revenue and online event execution by 50 percent every year over the past three years, says Biener. “Of all of the features marketers are looking for, there is nothing else that answers the questions in legacy media better than virtual events.” However, “We aren’t producing these in place of actual events, but as complementary resources. Physical conferences will never be replaced.” SIDEBAR #1 Virtual Vendors: What’s on the HorizonAs virtual events continue to boom, vendors are trying to keep up with technology extras while still offering affordable packages. Here, some of the latest platform innovations and what’s to come this year from some of the biggest vendors.InXpoPublishing Clients: Forbes Media, TechTarget, Ziff Davis Enterprises, Summit Business MediaPrice Range: $25,000-$35,000, but this price tag can range up into the six figures for more extensive branding, environment customizations, booths and Webcasts.What’s New: InXpo was the first to fully integrate with Twitter, allowing for full information integration into back-end reporting. The platform is enterprise-ready, so it can easily plug-and-play into any third-party technology. UnisfairPublishing Clients: Penton Media, Haymarket Media, The EconomistPrice Range: $30,000-$50,000 per event.What’s New: Unisfair has separated the user interface from the event management functionality, allowing customers to control the entire look and feel of the virtual experience. It also offers lead ranking and qualification analytics, which allow customers to rank leads based on a comprehensive data model populated during the event.ON24Publishing Clients: Penton Media, United Business Media, Nielsen Business Media, McGraw-Hill, Crain Communications, Reed Business InformationPrice Range: Hosting will cost $20,000-$50,000 on average.What’s New: ON24 offers enhanced interactivity and increased engagement with advanced 3-D technologies. They also have new applications which include e-commerce capabilities, mobile and virtual learning centers. There’s no doubt that virtual events have their fair share of naysayers. Access Intelligence CEO Don Pazour once compared them to virtual sex.But as the market begins to stabilize in what is now the new norm, no one is laughing as virtual events become go-to resources for publishers in every market. Vendors have ramped up social media offerings to meet clients’ needs—InXpo, for example, was the first to fully integrate Twitter—while magazine publishers tweak show offerings to attract hyper-targeted attendee leads. “A big area of improvement that I’ve seen on virtual platforms is the virtual lounge area,” says Eric Biener, vice president of business development for Nielsen Business Media. “It allows the audience to communicate. I don’t consider these types of events ‘virtual tradeshows,’ but actually white label b-to-b social networks.” No longer are virtual trade shows a place to log on and zone out; they are valuable lead generation tools and virtual playgrounds for attendees to interact. SIDEBAR #2Archive EtiquetteAs a value-add for sponsors and exhibitors, it’s become common practice to keep sponsor logos and exhibit booths alive on publisher sites. How long an event is archived and how a publisher markets the event after it is archived depends on the publisher and advertiser expectations. Here, three publishers weigh in the etiquette behind maintaining and promoting archived events.“InXpo suggested that we keep our conferences on demand for two months after the live event. We not only do this, but we also have an e-mail account set up specifically for attendee questions. Even though our iconference is on demand, we continue to advertise the event. Also, we take content from the iconference and excerpt it, so, for example, I can spin off short videos for Forbes.com.” -Matt Schifrin, Forbes Media“All of our digital events are archived for three to six months. We have a full production staff (two producers, two editors, three sales) and don’t treat our virtual events like a subsidiary. Our archive is exactly the same as it is live; the exhibitor booths are up but instead of being instant messaging-based, they are e-mail based. Our exhibitors can refresh their content themselves, or with our coaching and help. Our team does a majority of the heavy lifting on refreshing this content since exhibitors are not only paying for the delivery, but for our customer service team.”-Eric Biener, Nielsen Business Media“We send a weekly e-mail that informs attendees about updates to exhibitor information. We suggest exhibitors and sponsors put new information in their booths (and keep logos intact) throughout the three-month period that the event is on demand. This way, we can market it for them.-Ginger Szala, Summit Business Media