Making Innovation Work in B2B Media

Making Innovation Work in B2B Media

B2B media owners have always leveraged their special relationship with a narrow target group of business professionals created through their expertise and insight for the industry.  To ensure they stay relevant both to their readers – and their B2B brand clients - many are now using innovative partnerships and strategies which are changing the face of B2B media.  In this feature, B2B Syndicate profiles three dynamic business media owners, and examples of their innovation.

Incisive’s Computing and the History of IT

The Incisive team at Computing created a programme called the “History of IT” to mark both forty years of IT, and the 40th anniversary of Computing magazine.  The programme was sponsored by Intel, who were looking for engagement, and social reach through thought-leadership and content creation.  

The campaign centred on an interactive timeline (to see go to ), celebrating the key IT events of the last 40 years and some fun future predictions. Users voted for their favourite moments by tweeting their vote, engaging users and spreading the word at the same time.  Alongside this, an animated info-graphic video , which was made to launch the campaign at the UK IT Awards in November 2013, requesting attendees to kick-off the event by voting. Each vote enlarged the graphic on the timeline showing visually which IT events were the most popular, which was mirrored across the Computing and Intel sites.

“We wanted to engage readers in a new and innovative way, and we did that through this interactive timeline,” said Stuart Dommett, UK Business Marketing Manager at Intel. ‘The last 40 years were filled with great innovations from Intel and the industry; it was fantastic to see those innovations shared via social media.’

Tom Wright, Computing’s Publisher added ‘The timeline struck a chord with our readers, prompting personal memories of huge impact and inspiring events like the launch of the Sinclair Spectrum – which was many a CIOs first computer, and the birth of the world wide web before moving on to modern megatrends and a light-hearted look at the far future.  And by using social media, we were able to spread the net wide and generate engagement at scale for our sponsor Intel, drawing on both brands’ long histories’.  

The programme generated over 4200 combined votes across the Computing and Intel sites, as well as 334 tweets with #historyofit, and reached 73,159 Twitter accounts.  In addition, the programme earned Incisive an award for the “Best B2B Social Media Campaign, Best Technology Social Media Campaign” in the Internet Advertising Competition from the Web Marketing Association.

Financial Times and creative content programmes

It is not uncommon today for international B2B media owners to create integrated multi-platform programmes for large clients.  However, the team at the Financial Times are harnessing not only the delivery of media across their portfolio, but also reader engagement to power content creation.  A good example of this was a project sponsored by the Boston Consulting Group to identify 50 ideas that have changed business which began with a series of introductory articles suggesting some of the best (and worst!) ideas to have shaped business.  Readers were asked to submit their own suggestions below the fold.

An editorial video on then explored an example of an idea that transformed business on commercial air travel in more detail as part of efforts to continue to encourage submissions from readers on the site, as well as debate on their suggestions with journalists.  The entries were judged and then published within a super-sized magazine which brought together all the ideas alongside commentary from relevant writers in each discipline. The publication of the magazine fuelled the continuing debate online, placing many of the articles and videos in the ‘Most Read on’ charts for a number of weeks after the end of the campaign.

Robert Grange, Global Director of B2B Advertising, said 'This project delivered great results for Boston Consulting Group and really showcases the FT's capabilities for brands looking for innovative content marketing solutions.'  Specifically, this programme created 606,000 visits, 336,440 video plays, supporting 1.6 million ad impressions, and a 50% increase in CTR.  Other similar projects have incorporated additional elements such as live event content, video and other partnerships.  However most importantly, the Financial Times is showing an open mind to creating independent and relevant content series to support both reader and advertiser interest.

Blippar and Bloomberg BusinessWeek

In 2013, Blippar made seven Bloomberg Businessweek covers interactive.  Blippar is an augmented-reality mobile app which takes everyday products and transforms them into content-rich, consumer-centric interactive experience.  In this case, Bloomberg Businessweek ran each week a full page call to action providing readers with instructions on how to ‘blipp’ the cover of the magazine to unlock exclusive video content relating to the design of each cover, as well as the editor's personal insight into lead stories.

The series was sponsored by Deutsche Bank who ran a full page ad each issue which readers could also blipp to learn more about the company's passion to perform and their available financial services, through using an innovative technology to interact directly with the company.

By creating a series of interactive content, Bloomberg BusinessWeek was able to achieve greater engagement with their readers, as well as for their advertising client Deutsche Bank.  Jess Butcher, CMO & Co-Founder of Blippar highlighted ‘The marriage of interactive editorial and advertising provides a revolutionary opportunity for B2B print, not only to increase reader engagement with real-time updates and opportunities to play video, post comments or share content, but also to drive tangible, accountable advertiser value.’  Jess added ‘As the content is proactively requested and 'pulled' by the user - and requires their undivided attention – dwell times are averaging 75 seconds, a great deal more than other forms of media and advertising.’

See a video clip of Blippar and Bloomberg BusinessWeek in action   

In each of the cases profiled, the media owner created value and revenue by extending their content and brand into a new platform, partnership, or process.  All are good examples of innovation in B2B media, but more importantly the kind of strategy all business media need to ensure is part of their daily focus.  In the next feature, we will look at B2B media in emerging markets, and the evolving business models in trade publishing.

 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 .