Innovation in B2B Media: The power of partnership

Innovation in B2B Media: The power of partnership

The law of innovation described by Bill Joy (co-founder of Sun Microsystems) is that “innovation will occur”, and its corollary, “that it will occur elsewhere”.  In principal, therefore, strategy should embrace both the innovators who will be “elsewhere”, as well as your own. While this was meant of course to describe innovation models in the hyper-competitive world of technology, it now also applies to the media business today.

As B2B media owners invest in product and process innovation for their own business models, the most productive often involve deeply collaborative efforts with agencies and major B2B brands.  B2B Syndicate therefore spoke to three of the leading B2B agencies, and asked them to share examples of innovative partnerships with B2B media owners, and their insight on where they see future opportunities to collaborate.

Innovation in B2B - Photo

James Weatherill, the Head of B2B at Mindshare in the UK, believes ‘Media owners need to devote resources to better deliver integrated programmes (such as the Cisco case study below), which often have dual objectives for brand and lead generation.   So media owners have to have resources to ensure strong delivery for both direct response programmes and brand campaigns, and potentially be willing to offer performance related options where media owners share risk’

Another area James would like to see develop further is the ability to market to B2B audiences of major B2B media owners across other environments.  While the subject of ‘data’ can be a touchy subject with many B2B media owners, there is definitely an opportunity to create options that values the ability to target (and re-target) as part of media owner’s digital business model.

Stuart Giddings, Global Managing Director at Carat Enterprise , sees content as the key to successful programmes with clients and agencies.  Stuart added, ‘In the new fragmented media landscape, the lines have blurred between the services media owners and agencies provide, and they can either try to defend their traditional positions, or embrace the new integrated media ecosystem. Fully integrated programs built on well activated quality content require a collaborative approach.’

A great example of this was a programme with IDG and one of Stuart's global technology clients. It utilised a nano-site format that was specially created for the campaign. It required full collaboration between, client, media owner and agency to make it work. It enabled them to incorporate multiple content formats including video, live polls and white papers within a 300x600 ad unit.  While ‘content ads’ are increasingly common, the team in this case were able to optimise content by topic and country based on real-time data on levels of engagement.

Matt Broom, Managing Director and President, International at Doremus , highlighted their own agencies investment in DNA, short for Doremus Network Analysis, which a social media analysis created to ‘help clients understand their social spheres by identifying influencers and the best ways to reach them’.  It was in part through the use of DNA that Doremus identified for their client HP one of the only categories of PC sales still growing, which is high end computers used by digital media entertainment.  Peer advocacy is one of largest influences therefore Doremus developed an HP ‘pop-up’ in Soho where media professionals could come try HP’s high-end computers together with other peers.   This experiential programme generated 18.2 million Twitter impressions, and had extensive coverage in the media. 

While this example did not involve a B2B media owner commercially, it is indicative of the type of innovation seen in B2B marketing.  Matt added that ‘Integration – and results – are of course important, however our team are focused on ways we can partner with media with new approaches with real impact, rather than purely tactical’.

Which brings us back to the stark reminder from Bill’s law of innovation, to ‘assume innovation occurs elsewhere’ - - and if you are not careful may leave you behind.  In the next feature B2B Syndicate will feature case studies from leading B2B media owners where innovation is definitely taking place.


Cisco had established that decisions are no longer being made by a single point within a client, or prospect, with increasing influence from the C-Suite.  The approach Mindshare developed for Cisco was to partner with the Financial Times alongside an optimistic, imaginative and actionable context that helps “Connect the Unconnected’.  The content was split into two parts; “Better Boards” and “Transforming Industry”.  Both projects were aimed at hitting a similar kind of high-level audience, but in differing contexts.  The former centred on key issues affecting the boardroom, and the latter relating to the promise of digitisation and technological advancements improving industry performance.

The “Transforming Industry” series was a dedicated destination on featuring a bespoke video series created for Cisco.  Video was a key media decision, so the audience could see ‘technology in action’ incorporating a video feature and panel discussion.   Cisco held 100% SOV with print, digital and video pre-rolls.  “Better Boards” was a cross-platform campaign, with a bespoke content hub containing the entire editorial created for the project.  This was a blend of articles and videos around the topics outlined above, and the client branding covered 100% SOV of the hub. 

The combination created a 21% Increase in awareness for those exposed to the campaign verses those unexposed, gaining considerable ground on key competitors such as Huawei, IBM & HP. 

This feature is part of a series of special reports on trends in B2B media being written by B2B Syndicate to appear in Magazine World , the global publication of FIPP .