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How ETFs Are Generating Buzz

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There are a number of ways a fund sponsor can carve out a niche in the expanding ETF universe.

Schwab (SCHW) Vanguard, the mutual fund, have exploded onto the scene stealing away market share from competitors by taking aim at expense ratios.

Meanwhile, relative ETF newcomer Pimco has used its branding dominance to drive investors into its growing lineup of fixed income ETFs. The company has even managed to generate interest in its line of actively managed ETFs, a challenge other providers have struggled to overcome.

The Pimco Enhanced Short Maturity Strategy ETF (MINT) currently trades over 100,000 shares a day. The company's anticipated Pimco Total Return ETF looks set to be another big winner, riding the popularity and success of the Pimco Total Return Fund (PTRAX) and fund manager Bill Gross.

While expense ratios and branding have proven to be wildly successful techniques for generating investor interest in recent years, there are a number of ETF fund sponsors that are taking more traditional routes to generate buzz around their growing product lines.

For instance, companies such as First Trust and Global X have consistently worked to develop and launch products aimed at tracking previously unexplored corners of the global investing realm. As evidenced recently, this technique continues to be an effective way to solidify a spot within the ETF universe.

Traditionally being the first provider to tap into a specific market sector or theme has played a major role in determining an ETF's success. Evidence of the strength of first mover status can be seen in a number of places across the ETF universe. Physically-backed gold ETFs are a prime example.

Only two months separate the launches of SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and iShares Gold Trust (IAU).

However, it is clear that this fact has played a major role in determining the popularity and draw of the two funds. Although IAU has recently gathered steam against the elder GLD thanks to an expense ratio cut, the fund still pales in comparison to the product in terms of size. Whereas IAU boasts $7 billion in assets, the elder GLD clocks in at nearly $60 billion.

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