Neil Thackray’s Business Media Blog

Just another weblog is live

We’re live!
(London, 28th september 2010)
The switch is on!

After many hundreds of hours work we turned the site on 5 minutes ago and hope you like it.

There are 3 main sections to TheMediaBriefing.

1) Semantic analysis and indexing of web content
Our bespoke algorithms trawl and index thousands of specialist sources of information for the global media industry. All of this information is automatically tagged and sorted allowing you to track the people, companies and business issues of most relevance to you. This content is then fed into channels – B2B, Newspapers, Digital etc. and you can click on the navigation bar at the top to receive this view. Please sign up for those newsletters you’re most interested in (down the right hand side of the page).

2) Expert intelligence and opinion
You will see a carousel of images half way down the page that contains some exclusive and expert commentary about the media industry. there are other pieces in the general newsfeed that are tagged as “expert” in red. We are delighted by the contributions we have received so far. Contributions from the likes of:
David Gilbertson, CEO, emap
Tim Weller, CEO, Incisive Media
Alex Connock, CEO, Ten Alps
Greg Hadfield, former head of digital at Telegraph Media Group and now director of special projects at Cogapp
Matt Kelly, digital content director, Mirror Group Newspapers
Peter Bale, executive producer, MSN UK
and many more.
If you would like to discuss writing something for the site we’d love to hear from you. Simply e-mail our editor, Patrick Smith

3) In-depth research
The research arm of TheMediaBriefing publishes a range of strategic intelligence reports. Our first covers Paywall Strategies for Online Content and is currently being written by Peter Kirwan – Wired and Press Gazette columnist. This major report explores the various models for charging for content online and is currently available at a special pre-publications price during the month of October saving £200 off the standard rate. A range of other reports covering topics like Apps; Ad Networks; Pay TV Models and Performance-based advertising models are in the pipeline.
So that’s it, we’re live. My colleagues and I hope you enjoy the service. Please do be aware that the site continues its development over the coming weeks. If you spot and glitches or errors please e-mail
If you would like to submit your content for indexing, contribute an opinion piece, partner with us commercially or just have a question to ask about what we are doing we’d love to hear from you

P.S. If you think this site is cool please tell your friends about it. We’re on Twitter at and have evolving LinkedIn and Facebook groups / pages.
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September 28, 2010 Posted by | B2B Journalism, b2b media, Paid content, Search | 1 Comment

Get ready for

If you have been wondering why there have not been many posts here in the last couple of weeks, it is because I have been busy with the team at Briefing Media getting ready for the launch of our first business to business site for the media industry.  Early next week we plan to flip the switch when for the first time you will be able to explore our blend of intelligent semantic technology and original writing from industry experts.

We are releasing in Beta so do let us know if you spot a glitch or have a suggestion.  We already have a raft of enhancements in the pipeline and have begun the planning for the release of more sites for other business verticals.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved.  If you have an insight into the media industry why not become one our Experts and share your knowledge with the media industry.  If you’re shy, then you can sign up now to be one of the first to see the site when it goes live next week.  When we are live you will be able to register for specialist newsletters and pre order copies of our first special report.  The topic of that report couldn’t be more pressing.  If you are thinking about the impact of pay walls you will want to get a copy.  We explore the different models for implementing paywalls and give you all the knowledge you need to build, refine or review your approach to the pay wall challenge.

If you want to explore working with us and getting your business in front of our audience then just call and we’ll talk about how we can work together.

In the meantime you might want to take a look at a short video presentation about what we are doing here

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September 24, 2010 Posted by | b2b media, business media strategy, Paid content | 1 Comment

A Mantra for Giving Up on Pay Walls

Solving the b2b conundrum is partly about how you think as well as being about what you do. It struck me today that we too easily use vocabulary that fixes us in a mode of being defensive. All the talk about paywalls is perhaps the best example. Our failure to innovate in online advertising solutions, the crippling impact of the decline in print advertising has led us to think defensively about our brands rather than thinking about how to better serve our readers or users. What is a wall? A barrier. It is a solid and impregnable way to stop users and readers reaching your content. That seems perverse. Of course I not saying we should not find ways of charging users for services we provide but if we build a wall, and we think like wall builders (think of Hadrian) we will end up in a battle with our users which they will win.

The answer is to think differently. Lets stop talking about walls and talk about access. Lets not pretend that we can charge for that which we gave away for free and think about how we can devise new content and services that will complement our free offering. Lets stop putting the old model and the defence of the old model at the centre of what we do and instead put our users at the centre. Lets think about how we can expose our users to more; for that way we may be able to charge. To offer users less than we used to by building a wall, and then expecting them to pay to climb over the top to get to what they used to have by right runs against the norm of human nature

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February 2, 2010 Posted by | business media strategy, Paid content | Leave a comment

Wringing our Hands about paid content and advertising

I didn’t manage to get to the AOP Conference last week, but no surprise that it appears the discussion there was mostly much wringing of hands about how to make the paid content model work.  The Guardian reported;

“Digital consultant Bill Murray warned publishers that if they put a barrier in front of their users, it is likely that they will disappear. Instead he suggested, they need to rethink the concept of content. The most important factor in the success of iTunes success wasn’t the content, he argued, but the service”.

This seems to me to be the crux of the issue and is accidentally a key insight in to the reasons that publishers find the paid model challenging.  The natural instinct for a publisher is to put the content at the centre of the thinking.  Magazine publishers start their working day by thinking about how to make a better magazine and then work out wards from there.  When they ask what their readers want, the answer can only be something that can be squeezed into a magazine delivery format.

“Not me!” I hear the progressive publishers cry.  The honest truth is, it is almost all of us.  The paid content model requires a fundamental rewiring of how our media brains work.  Instead of putting the content at the centre of our strategy we need to put the user at the centre.

If I ran a chain of coffee shops I might consider that if I make the best coffee I can my business will thrive.  I invest in better beans, more reaosting technology, training my staff how to make the best coffee, serving the coffees in the finest china mugs money can buy.  I will fail every time until I realise I am not in the coffee business at all.  Not sure? Well think about this;

A famous case study of the demise of the Parker Pen company exposes the same mistake.  When Bic began eating into the share of the Parker Pen business by selling cheap biros the managment at Parker determined to compete.  They reworked their manufacturing process to produce cheaper pens.  They judged that to match the price of the new upstart they needed to cut their own price.  The result was disasterous and share conitnued to fall.  After a while the rate of decline accelerated to a faster rate than the growth of Bic.  What had gone wrong?  The inisght to fixing the problem was to recognise that Parker was not really in the pen business at all.  When a customer selected a Parker Pen it was most usually as a gift.  The substitues were not the Bic, but a rather a cigarette lighter or a letter opener.  A reduction in the quality of the Parker Pen had sidelined them in the gift market and continued to leave them at a competitive disadvantage to Bic on price.

What is there to learn from this for business media? The content we used to offer (mostly news) is now avaialable for free.  We have competed by offering our own news for free but have discovered that our users, instead of rewarding us with loyalty and praise, now simply take us for granted and use us as one of many sources of news on the Internet.

Other articles in this blog have said this before, and I make no apology for repeating it again.  Our business is not content.  Our business is helping users to make better decisions and helping vendors to sell more.  When David Gilbertson says that we over estimate the importance of business journalism he makes a fair point and if you read this blog and others you will find lots of clues about what to do about it.  But now for a heresy.  What would happen if we put the question differently?

Instead of

“Giving content away in an advertising supported model does not create enough user engagement (page views/session) or repeat visiting to justify a high CPM.  As a result we conclude that the ad model doesn’t work and we say, how can we create a paid content model?”

Lets try, “What would we need to do to persuade users to engage with our content in such a way that advertisers woudl agrees to pay a CPM sufficent to pay for the content creation costs and give us a profit?”

Let’s think about the scale of that task.  In the old model a typical B2B magazine with a 20000 circulation might have expected to sell ads at around £1500 a page.  That equates to a cost/000 of about £75.  Our current free content model is a long way short of that.  Our typical B2B companion website might get 100,000 page views a month. With a 70% bounce rate only 30% of that traffic is likely to be effctive for advertisers to reach.  Let us imagine that we can service three ad impressions on each page.  So if we sellout our usable inventory our total ad impressions will be 90000.  If you are selling your inventory at £30/000 cpm you are probably doing well.  So if we sell out, our monthly revenue will be not more than £2700 – less than two pages of advertsing in the old model.  My hypothesis could be wrong by a factor of ten and we still don’t have a great business!

We need to find a way to take this model and achieve at least £50000 revenue/month. Driving the number of user visits up is unlikely to work.  The universe of relevant people is limited by the scale of the niche.  In any event the task is daunting.

Consider this:

Where maximum monthly revenue = M

Monthly page impressions= T

Bounce rate (expressed as a decimal) =B

Number of Ad impressions/page =A

Average achieved CPM =C

Then M= T*(1-B)*A*C

Max Rev = 100*(1-0.7))*3*30= £2700

So. all other things being equal, by how much would any one variable have to move to achieve our £50k goal? The terrifying answer is we would need either 1.9m page impressions/month or 55 ad impressions on each page or a CPM of £555!

This seems to me to be so far removed from anything that could be remotely achievable that the drive to paid content is impossible to resist

Does this mean that we should give up on the ad model. If we could improve CPM by 50%, increase available traffic by 50% and halve the bounce rate would that help?  The answer is not much.  Our maximum revenue would still be just £13000 a month.

As with content strategy, using offline thinking in the online world is always going to disappoint.  If you think about it, the magazine ad model, where we could charge £70/ooo to perhapsps fifty advertiisers in the same issue is the equivalent of having 50 ad positions on every web page.  No wonder the offline ad model doesn’t work in the online world.

Is it possible to consrtuct an advertsing model for the b2b web that pays the bills? While I think about that keep cracking on with those hybrid strategies.

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October 11, 2009 Posted by | Advertising Sales, business media strategy, Paid content, Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments