Transforming B2B Media

Transforming B2B Media

Marketers looking to market to professionals for branding, awareness and lead generation were dependent on media owners for access to support marketing communications with their industry, clients and prospects.  However the marketing mix has shifted dramatically for B2B brands, and while high-value content, context and audience remains valuable, for many brands even the performance of advertising is now measured in part by the ability to drive engagement with earned and owned media, and is now part of a greatly expanded mix of integrated marketing services, data and business intelligence. Chuck Richard, VP and lead analyst at Outsell shared with B2B Syndicate the following trends in B2B media, taken in part from Outsell’s Information Industry Outlook 2014: Convergence Now! report.

Aligning content and marketing with individual users’ intent and context is the largest growth driver, and the business purpose of applied analytics .  Media owner’s ability to integrate analytics into every operational and planning discipline to follow users’ intent, leads to more targeted content, and more relevant advertising. This, in turn, leads to higher conversions and more engaged and loyal readers, who value the information and services more highly.

The market is moving towards pull marketing rather than push marketing .  Leading B2B media owners (especially at technology and agricultural publishers) are expanding their marketing service businesses, and are pioneering growth opportunities that go far beyond providing inventory for media (impressions or pages) and trade show booth space. In fact, Outsell’s annual advertising and marketing studies show that advertisers are increasingly choosing publishers for marketing services, and decreasing plans to use agencies.

Diversification and embedded workflow .  Media companies are accelerating their diversification into multiple revenue streams. In addition to an increased focus on marketing services, many B2B trade publishers are increasing their events revenue, both in-person and digital. A bigger leap has been the subset of firms that are adding data and analytics embedded into their customers’ workflows, with leaders capturing large share of day usage.

E-commerce   A few B2B media companies are now running their own goods and services e-commerce businesses. Executives leading the charge see a winning combination of great growth potential and strategic necessity. Meanwhile, suppliers with active e-commerce businesses are moving into content. They also see “contextualized commerce” as the future, with content and audience engagement providing premium context. This enthusiasm feeds on the core axiom:Audience and trust are publishers’ most valuable and unique assets, and they are under-monetized by publishers.

Global expansion into emerging markets.  The economies of the emerging markets in Asia, India, Latin America, and Africa are growing faster than those in the US and Europe, with the number of professionals in all fields in those markets is growing rapidly. As professional functions in many emerging markets do not have a long history of entrenched information suppliers, there are opportunities for new revenue and profit growth potential for US- and European based media companies that are facing low growth, stagnation, or recession, potentially through local partnerships.

Many of these trends are evident at IDG who operate in 95 countries around the world, often through licensed partners, with a diversified portfolio of print, digital, mobile, events and a growing business in marketing services. David Hill, president of IDG, said: “Marketing services is growing very rapidly, and we are doubling our commitment to it, including lead generation as well as data, video, microsites and research.”

IDG has invested significantly in their growing digital businesses, including their own digital ad network, RTB and programmatic businesses Digital continues to grow rapidly globally for IDG, and is their largest revenue source in the US. However in many emerging markets print continues to be a major contribution, and in many markets events are a great driver of revenue and growth.

At UBM in the UK, events are the majority of revenue, though a major element of their strategy is supported by building professional communities between buyers and sellers, with a combination of analytical journalism and moderated contributions from professionals in the industry.  UBM’s chief content officer, Adrian Barrick, said: “This shift required a new platform that enabled peer to peer learning from professionals, rather than the old model which was solely editors broadcasting their views. The aim is to create engaged communities across our major verticals, and it’s working.”

While B2B media owners with more traditional strategies can continue to succeed, the dramatic shift taking place in how B2B brands sell and market their products and services, will require those in business media to transform their business models and overall strategy to survive. And though global B2B 2013 revenue has improved since the recession, the modest growth of 2.1 per cent overall (see Outsell chart below) highlights the need for B2B media owners to adapt more quickly to meet client expectations.

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 .