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The value of B2B media

Many professional business media companies invest in efforts to quantify, qualify and prove the value of their media to business decision makers in order to support advertising and sponsorship revenue across their portfolios. Michael Toedman investigates.

Independent audits provided by organisations such as BPA Worldwide provide advertisers assurance they are getting an honest return on their advertising investment or sponsorship, which according to the BPA ensures:  

Advertisers can better target and focus on audience ‘quality’ and ‘engagement’ instead of simply ‘more is better’. 

Ads in audited media are more valuable since advertisers know what they are buying and the media owner can prove the audience being delivered. 

Media owners who can demonstrate value through a measured, quantifiable audience provide advertisers with assurance for the media buy. 

Advertisers can move from a media buy based solely on price to one based on effectiveness and proven ROI. 

Growing investment in new digital and mobile platforms has driven innovation across the industry, and as Mike Marchesano, managing director, ABM and CISD Divisions, SIIA, highlights: “Qualify does have many meanings. Third party auditors continue to provide independent analysis, along with companies like Chartbeat which tracks engagement, and other emerging companies who are looking at social media as well.  And publishers themselves are doing interesting things as well. For example, Cygnus Business Media has created customer personas to show how customers are accessing its content and consuming it across multiple platforms.”

ABC measurement

ABC in the UK launched a Total Audience Certificate last year, which claims to measure a brand's entire audience through merging traditional ABC auditing of print and online assets, with the data analysis from PwC's multiplatform measurement system, used by the Financial Times, Centaur Media and UBM’s Built Environment division. Sam Tomlinson, the PwC partner who leads their media measurement practice, said: "An understanding of cross-platform audience reach is critical information for any advertiser planning either a reach or frequency campaign.  We are delighted to be collaborating with the ABC and industry representatives in developing this exciting new product."

Financial Times

As an example, the FT’s Average Daily Global Audience certificate breaks down its readers' activity across online, mobile web, apps and print across four regions. Separately, the FT have also been developing models around engagement which are starting to be utilised in both audience demographics and pricing models.  

While innovation accelerates in audience measurement and validation on a publisher and site level, advertisers are investing greater budgets into audience targeting, data, and CRM, often outside of B2B media owner platforms. Profiled here are two interesting initiatives from B2B media industry bodies that are gathering momentum, and aim to support the continued business case for B2B media owners who bring together business buyers and sellers to facilitate business and purchases.

Deutsche Fachpresse

Deutsche Fachpresse (the German Association for Business Media) represents 400 member publishing houses in a sector with a total of around 3,900 magazine publications and sales of more than €3bn. Their B2B Decision Maker Analysis 2013/2014 investigates how professional decision makers in Germany search for and obtain information, based on telephone interviews with 606 professionals. The study found that B2B magazines continue to be one of the most important sources of business information, with 83 per cent of professional decision makers in Germany saying they have used one or more B2B publication in a business context in the last 12 months, with 94 per cent confirming they have used either a print or online media channel of a B2B media. In addition, 49 per cent of users use trade media as often as before, with 38 per cent of professional decision makers confirming they refer to them more frequently than they did two years ago.

This engagement with B2B media continues as decision makers seek and share information for purchasing decisions, evidenced by the fact that as result of information in trade media on business products and services, 83 per cent of users visited manufacturers’ and service providers’ websites for further information, 77 per cent shared information with colleagues, and 68 per cent engaged with service providers directly.  

The power of business media is driven by quality editorial. Bernd Adam, managing director at Deutsche Fachpresse said: “B2B media readers appreciate the credibility, objectivity and integrity of B2B media as important providers of information, which underlines the need to invest in quality journalism.”

ABM

ABM – Association of Business Information and Media Companies, is focused across the entire B2B business model - data, events, information, marketing services and media. Now a division of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), ABM is home to 200-plus member companies who reach an audience of more than 100 million professionals and represent nearly 4,000 print and online titles and more than 1,000 trade shows, with more than $20bn in annual revenues.

ABM launched a research project in 2013 to quantify the value of trade media in facilitating the buyer-seller relationship, and due to the positive feedback from the industry they intend to publish an update in 2015.  ABM’s Value of B2B study included three groups, with three separate questionnaires, including 6,682 media end-users (readers, event attendees, etc.), 111 publishing professionals and 74 marketers who responded to the publishing and advertising polls.  

First and foremost, the study confirmed that print and website rank tied for first for information sources for industry related content, with 96 per cent of media users confirming they visit B2B websites, 73 per cent visit at least weekly, and 41 per cent of users accessing websites on a daily basis. And while online continues to grow as a platform, it was interesting to see that 96 per cent of respondents also read print B2B magazines, with 45 per cent reading print magazines at least weekly. Users also highlighted they would engage with industry content more if there were stronger mobile and apps from B2B publishers for both website and digital editions of their products.

While print and online platforms continue to be important to advertisers, those who participated in the ABM study ranked face-to-face events as the number one platform in spend and sponsorship for generating awareness and leads for both new and existing customers. Mike Marchesano, managing director of ABM said: “BPA Worldwide continues to provide third party, independent audits for the trade show industry, although given the nature of the tradeshow experience, exhibitors also tend to gauge success by their experience and ROI in ‘real time’ during the event.”

Both organisations have announced plans to release updates on the respective studies, with Deutsche Fachpresse releasing an update at the end of this year, and ABM planning a new study in 2015. There is great value in the insight they are creating about the continued value of B2B media, and we hope to see their initiatives grow and expand into other markets.

Michael Toedman is founder and managing director of Soho Syndicate, a media and marketing consultancy focused on international, digital and commercial strategy, and has recently launched www.b2bsyndicate.com, a platform to feature expert practitioners in B2B media and marketing, including thought-leadership, professional development and benchmarks. Toedman also serves as international managing director for the Business to Business Network (www.bbnnetworks.com). Prior to Soho Syndicate, he served in senior roles at BusinessWeek, Euromoney and Institutional Investor in London, Hong Kong and New York. He served as president of the International Advertising Association in Hong Kong (1998-2000), and joined the IAA UK board in 2001, including two terms as president (2007-2011), one as chairman (2011-2013), and continues to serve on the UK chapter board.

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