Annual Conference focuses on b-to-b media company of the future
New technology, competition with marketers' own content pose myriad challenges
By John Obrecht
Publishing executives spent the lion's share of last month's American Business Media Annual Conference in Amelia Island, Fla., focusing on sustainable business models in a rapidly evolving environment. The consensus: The successful b-to-b media company of the future must produce timely, relevant content while working in a more collaborative way with marketers that are stepping up their own content creation.
Tony Uphoff, CEO of Business.com, kicked off a session that addressed the topic head-on, saying, “The infusion of new technology isn't scaling our business, it's challenging it.”
Abraham Langer, COO of 1105 Media, followed with a blunt assessment of the advertising business model that drove b-to-b media for generations. “That old model is dead,” he said. “What's not dead is the more basic proposition of b-to-b media, which is connecting buyers and sellers.”
Langer said different channels have different audiences and that publishers must tailor content accordingly. “At the end of the day, it's reaching everyone through these channels,” he said.
Serving up quality content and studying how users respond to it will enable media companies to monetize their distinct audiences, he said.
Penton Media CEO David Kieselstein said, “The way this business is going to work is putting users at the center.” This includes “dayparting,” targeting people at specific times of the day based on their media consumption patterns, he said.
Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo Inc., said, “Your customers are all out-producing you when it comes to content.” But that's not necessarily cause for concern, he said.
“The opportunity there is integration,” Glass said. “It's to partner with advertisers in a much more cohesive way.” He said this should include integration with advertisers' data analytics systems, which is critical to showing how media companies affect the buying funnel.
The issue of publishers competing against marketers' own content marketing efforts came up again in a session that focused on a new ABM study titled “The Value of B-to-B: How Business-to-business Media Connect Buyers and Sellers.” The study was based on three online surveys that Readex Research fielded on behalf of ABM in March and April. Each survey polled a particular group: publishers, marketers and media users.
The survey of 6,682 users found that the same percentage—96%—turns to print magazines and to media websites for industry-related content. It also found that 93% rely on product information from manufacturers. As marketers step up their own content marketing efforts, this latter finding “is something to watch,” said Michael Alterio, ABM research and content director.
The user survey also found great interest in industry content delivered via smartphones and tablets. Seventy-five percent of the 4,568 users who indicated they use a mobile device for business said they would engage with industry-related content more “if publishers created an optimized version of their websites that is easily viewed and navigated on a smartphone or tablet.”
Alterio said that with users desiring more mobile content and markers wanting to reach this mobile audience, “There's a clear job to be done there.”
ABM-SIIA MERGER APPROVED
On the second day of the conference, the ABM membership approved the group's merger with the Software & Information Industry Association by an 86-3 vote.
Under the terms of the merger, ABM will become a division of SIIA. ABM President-CEO Clark Pettit said the merger agreement came after 18 months of evaluating the best path for organization.
Among those voting against the merger was J. Roger Friedman, president of Lebhar-Friedman Inc. Citing several pioneers of b-to-b media, including his father, he said, “Because of my emotional ties to ABM and its history, I am casting a negative vote.” ABM members responded to his speech with a standing ovation.