Bakley ushers FierceMarkets' expansion
New president sees growth potential in custom content
By James Podolny
Questex Media Group promoted Maurice Bakley to president of its FierceMarkets division in January, putting him in charge of the company's entire portfolio and expanding his role in strategic planning.
As COO, a position he held since 2009, Bakley focused on strategy implementation across four verticals—enterprise IT, finance, government and healthcare. He now adds energy, life sciences and telecom to his duties, with a focus on driving companywide growth.
In the near term, Bakley looks to expand FierceMarkets' e-book offerings and custom content.
“There is a lot of demand for not just simple lead generation, but for us as publishers to [create] engaging content and deliver that to [our] aggregated audiences,” he said.
With many readers suffering from white paper fatigue, the company's e-books—which feature in-depth coverage of subjects such as cloud content management and wireless network security—have consistently generated higher response rates. FierceMarkets guarantees advertisers at least 150, 250 or 400 leads based on their level of sponsorship. The e-books, which often have multiple sponsors (AT&T Inc. and Intel Corp., for example) are editorially driven in content creation.
Although FierceMarkets also creates custom e-books for clients, Bakley said the majority will remain editorial products to strengthen the company's brand and establish thought leadership.
“By doing primarily editorial, we see increased response rates continue because readers value that third-party impartial look,” he said. “They help give readers a depth of content that you don't get in the daily newsletters.”
The company also recently experimented with a paid e-book sold on Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes bookstore. In December, FierceMarkets published Kindle and iBook versions of “Companion Diagnostics: The Future of Medicine,” by Tracy Staton, editor of “FiercePharma” (a life sciences newsletter from FierceMarkets), which sold several hundred copies.
While Bakley said there could be occasions to do that again in the future, sponsored lead-gen publications in PDF formats will remain the core of FierceMarkets' e-book trade.
The company is also in the process of building up its sponsored-survey business. FierceMarkets' editorial staff teamed with advertisers like GE Healthcare and Varolii (a Seattle-based communications software company) to identify potential topics. Editorial staffers then interviewed readers about how their peers handle specific technologies—such as the state of virtualization in hospitals—and created survey questions based on their findings.
The surveys also have lead-generation components. According to Bakley, readers who complete a survey are asked to submit contact information and answer one or two lead-gen questions for the advertiser. Readers who volunteer information can see a benchmark report and receive a small reward, like a gift card for Starbucks.
It's this kind of soft selling that's been the key to success with audiences, Bakley said. “Readers know when they're being sold to,” he said. “With our editorially-driven webinar program, e-books [and] surveys, editors need to be really onboard and driving the process; and clients need to step back and let us [create] great content that engages readers.”