It's fast becoming axiomatic in b2b media that innovation builds the corporation. Or at the very least, innovation helps the corporation keep pace with the rapid changes transforming the media skyline. Consider, for example, News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal. The brand, which has topped BtoB's Media Power 50 for each of the 13 years the list has been published, has not stood pat with a print newspaper and a paid website.
The Journal has extended its brand with conferences such as ECO:nomics and a glossy luxury magazine, WSJ., which has attracted about 200 new advertisers to the brand. The brand has been a leader with digital-only products, such as All Things Digital. Its mobile app has had more than 2 million downloads, and the Wall Street Journal Digital Network has almost 600,000 Facebook “likes.”
The No. 2 brand on the Media Power 50 is synonymous with innovation. Not content to command search marketing, Google has moved aggressively into display advertising, mobile advertising with its AdMob acquisition and video with YouTube.
The NFL has innovated by creating more inventory for advertisers by launching its own cable network, the NFL Network. The league has also added Thursday broadcasts in addition to Sunday and Monday. The NFL is so popular, even in the off-season, that it now has a multiday broadcast of its draft.
Bloomberg Businessweek has also been a successful innovator in its medium. The simple fact of investing in a weekly that many media observers had left for dead was certainly going against the grain. Bloomberg Businessweek also innovated by employing newspaper delivery services to get the magazine onto front steps faster than Postal Service delivery. The investment in the publication and the new delivery mechanism paid off with a gain of 19% in ad pages last year.
The Financial Times has also been a cutting-edge leader. It pioneered the metered website model, showed that publishers didn't need Apple to distribute their apps and created its own audience measurement metric, the Average Daily Global Audience.
CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network, has a history of innovation. Now, it's a leader in online video and the mobile Internet. Facebook and LinkedIn are transforming how consumers and marketers view the Internet and are among the creators of the “social Web,” which observers say is supplanting the search-oriented Web created by Google. Increasingly, the innovations from LinkedIn and Facebook are attracting b2b ad dollars.
The PGA Tour has been a leader in streaming tournament coverage to smartphones and tablets, which in turn increases the advertising inventory. The final brand in the Media Power 50 Top 10, Forbes, has long been a leading media innovator. It was one of the first business brands to build its website around the concept of aggregation. Now, Forbes is blazing a new trail with its AdVoices program, which allows marketers to blog on Forbes.com for a price, and its validated Brand Increase Guarantee program, which assures marketers that an ad impression has been delivered.