It has been a very busy few weeks, getting ready for the launch of our first Briefing Media product. Thanks to everyone who has been in touch and to the army of folk who have been helping with the technical build and those who have agreed to write expert commentary about the industry. What industry?
We plan to launch a series of Briefing Media sites in several vertical markets over the next few months, but our first is focussed on our own industry, the media business. Our approach is to combine the old and the new to present a compelling lens on the business of media. Original content contributed by experts combined with a search tool that enables users to explore topics of importance to them. Our semantic search technology looks for relationships between topics and organises stories into intuitive categories and channels.
In addition we have begun to commission a series of detailed, practical and expert reports about the key issues facing decision makers in media today. Or first report is almost complete and is available to order at a prepublication discount as soon as the site goes live.
We are also planning some new media events and commissioning a series of training programmes. Much of this is to come in the next few weeks. In the meantime take a look at the site, give us your feedback, sign up for one or more of our free weekly newsletters. If you spot something missing, or have an expert thought you want to share, or have thought of ways you would like to work with us, then do get in touch.
The Media Briefing updates 24 hours a day 7 days a week so we hope to see you often. If you want to be one of the first to see the live site visit now and register your interest. We will let you know just as soon as we are ready to go live.
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- Neil Thackray’s Business Media Blog: A Future for Business Media (neilthackray.wordpress.com)
The PPA conference played host this week to PWC who paintd a grim but familiar picture about the future of B2B media. The presentation argued that £1.3billion of revenue has been wiped from the revenues of business media companies since 2007 and much of this is structural not cyclical. They see little prospect for near term recovery and say that the only hope is in new digital services.
None of this is a surprise, at least not to those of you who have been reading this blog or Rory Brown or Paul Conley and others. What is left unsaid is the implications of this. The digital model requires a very different construct from the traditional model, not least the absolute necessity to build an enterprise which has much lower content creation and overhead costs. Although most companies have cut costs, I think it could be argued that none have yet really tackled the stuctural issues of business engineering.
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One of the reasons so many media companies are in trouble is the simultaneous crisis in all revenue streams. It seems to many, that whatever strategy is deployed, the size of the potential revenue pot keeps falling.
Back in the sixities, almost all business to business titles were paid for. News about your industry was valuable and that value could be measured with money. Today nobody charges for news. In print, yields have been under pressure for some years. Online display advertising with it’s transparent measurability has given advertisers a legitimate stick with which to beat media owners. Where there has been success in selling online display the achieved CPM has been falling. Too much traffic, too little of it useful or enaged, consequent poor click through rates mean that much inventory remains unsold – a growing proportion for many – and what does get sold is at rates that are falling. Where once the choice advertisers had was limited by the number of titles in a market, today they are confused by so much choice.
We lost our way with recruitment. Where we used to charge thousands of pounds for a page of advertising, the job board model now offers an ad £100. In the recession prices here too are falling.
However we solve the current strategic conundrum, it seems pretty clear that unless we can push back the tide of prices tending to zero we don’t have a business. The truth is, whilst there are things we can do to make a difference the price of a transaction in the new world is unlikely to reach the heady heights of the old world. There are four steps that all media companies must take:
1) Set the fixed cost base at a level which is supportable by the new model. This means attacking some sacred cows and stripping away layers of management costs.
2) Improve the value of your advertising proposition. Seth Godin says,
“As long as your site is about something else and the ads are a distraction, you’ll see CPM rates drop. As soon as you (or the advertisers) figure out that creating online communities aligned with the advertising, where attendance is a choice by the consumer, then you’re creating genuine value.”
In B2B that means making ads relevant and targeted. Don’t give up on vertical search solutions. Keep experimenting – there are riches ahead for the media company that gets it right.
3) Audit every activity that leaves the building and assess it for value. Use that value audit to establish the prices that could be achieved.
4) Give up on the idea that you are going to survive by doing the stuff you used to do. News products supported by advertising are going to be very small businesses. Plan and implement a series of new product developments that will help you scale your business. Buy some expertise to help you do it.
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- Online Growth Failed To Offset B2B Media Companies’ Decline In ’08 (paidcontent.org)
- B2B Publisher Revenue Shifts Decisively Online (marketingvox.com)
- B2B Media Revenue Falls; Online Offsets Some Print Losses (marketingvox.com)