Council report: Use of print media by younger farmers is strong

By Jack Semler, Readex ResearchJackSemler2

The overall use of printed ag magazines and newspaper by farmers and ranchers in general can safely be characterized as “strong.” When one considers that print is facing challenges in other markets, it’s almost remarkable to see how print is holding so well in agriculture.

This observation is based on the 2014 Media Channel Study conducted by Readex Research on behalf of the ABM Agri Media Council. This is the third wave of the study, and as such, trends are beginning to emerge. The basic trend, that print in ag remains strong, and that digital media channels are emerging in importance as well, is very clear. When looking at “weekly usage” measures over the three survey waves, that data actually point to an incredible appetite for information and knowledge across the consumer board. Further, when we break out survey data by age, we see what some might think are surprising numbers.

The study data has been analyzed using three overarching age categories, and “younger” operators have consistently been classified as those less than 45 years of age. When answering the question, “How often do you usually read, view, visit, attend, or use the following types of agricultural media or information sources?” 81% of ALL respondents indicated using printed ag magazines and newspapers on a weekly basis. In 2012, the percentage was 82% — no significant difference. When we look at the answer to this same question based on the younger operator, 85% indicated weekly usage of these printed products and that is actually a slight increase from the 2012 measure of 81%.

Continue reading

Editorial integrity, advertising appeal and being part of the solution (without selling your soul)

Gawker made a splash this week with a report that says in addition to criteria such as “Quality of Writing” and “Productivity/Tenacity,” a Time Inc. spreadsheet used to evaluate writers and editors also contains a column titled, “Produces content that is beneficial to the advertiser relationship.”

The report was given to Gawker by the Newspaper Guild, which has filed an arbitration demand against Time Inc. to dispute the use of these criteria as a basis for writer lay-offs. While there’s probably more to it than a seemingly outrageous violation of ad/edit ethics (a Sports Illustrated spokesperson tells Gawker that “The Guild’s interpretation is misleading and takes one category out of context”), this story comes on the heels of a report that Conde Nast tried to recruit big-name writers in the food industry for a custom video series for seed giant Monsanto—without telling the writers that the project was an advertorial. On the surface, August hasn’t been a good month for editorial standards in the magazine industry.

At the same time, the survival of quality journalism may depend on editors playing a bigger role in the financial success of their companies. The two extremes of the edit/ad relationship fall into camps of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” when it comes to business considerations, and pay-for-play. As is usually the case with extremes, both are wrong.

Historically regarded by publishing executives as a cost center, content creators who can help propose and realize programs with significant revenue derived from either advertising/sponsorship (while staying away from pay-for-play) or paid content can help raise their value exponentially. “Engaging with the business side does not automatically mean compromising professional integrity,” said Bill McDowell, vice president and editorial director of MTG Media during a session at ABM’s Regional Training Series in Chicago called “Raise Your Business IQ and Get a Better Seat at the Table.” Instead, McDowell urged editors to look for opportunities to create content that users will pay for.

Continue reading

Through the funnel: Marketing technologies becoming priority for b2b media

DragonForceSourceMedia has a new owner and a full war chest to pursue acquisitions. Among its targets: digital marketing technologies that can create a more efficient, targeted buy.

Advanced marketing solutions, including programmatic buying, marketing automation and retargeting, are no longer the domain of tech media but are becoming increasingly important in other verticals as well. “Where are we with tracking people through our funnel?” asked Mason Power, chief marketing officer at iLevel Solutions, during a marketer roundtable at ABM’s recent Annual Conference called “What B2B Marketers Want from You.” “Where are we with tracking people through [b2b publishers’ sites] and connecting the two? That’s what we want to discuss, not space and time.”

This week, Business.com launched a state-of-the-art data platform and content delivery system, designed to offer high-quality content and contextual advertising. The new platform includes advanced display advertising and retargeting, pay-per-click advertising, marketing-ready leads generated through content marketing and sales-ready leads, which connect marketers with active buyers at the final stage of the purchasing process. A video outlining the new services is available here.

“The old media model was to simply connect buyer and seller and get out of the way,” Uphoff said in a recent Q&A with ABM. “The new model uses data to connect the right buyer to the right seller at the right time while nurturing that relationship.”

Praetorian Group, Inc. earlier this year announced a partnership with Drakontas LLC, a software and communications firm geared toward providing solutions for the government sector. As a result of this deal, Drakontas’s DragonForce software will be incorporated into Praetorian’s PoliceOne Network, a news resource and directory for the law enforcement industry. Drakontas will specifically be working with Praetorian Labs, the innovation investment division of the parent company.

DragonForce is an interactive, software-as-a-service (SaaS) package designed to aid in connectivity of law enforcement teams – both tactical and non-tactical. It offers an instant messaging platform, photo and document sharing, tracking capabilities and a collaborative whiteboard-style program. Praetorian’s addition of this software to its PoliceOne Network – which already offers news, training, product research and more to law enforcement professionals – will result in an even more comprehensive user experience.

“Many leading tech companies have incubators, labs or investment funds to better monitor trends, inform future M&A and investments and stay on the forefront of innovation,” Praetorian CEO Alex Ford told ABM. “I think we’ll see more of these types of programs being launched by media companies as they continue to evolve. It’s one thing to launch tech products and websites, but entirely another to become a part of the tech ecosystem of your market and stay on the forefront of innovation. Programs like Praetorian Labs and partnerships with companies like Drakontas allow us to do just that.”

Continue reading

Research overview: Reaching and influencing b-to-b buyers

July 30, 2014 – Business-to-business decision makers tend to be conservative white males, mobile-savvy but using phones and tablets primarily for email, and reachable via traditional media channels, according to a review of 10 studies of b-to-b decision makers by MarketingCharts.com. The report, “Reaching and Influencing B2B Buyers and Decision-Makers,” gathers demographic and preferential survey results from a range of sources, including ABM’s own Value of B-to-B research.

Using a CMO Council study, the report identifies three stages that comprise the buyer journey: Awareness, Evaluation, and Purchase. Trade publishers and research reports ranked highly in the first stage of the journey, but for making specific purchases, tech specs and data sheets were number one.

Among the other takeaways from the report:

 — Demographically, b-to-b buyers increasingly skew towards conservative white males.

 — Decision-makers have adopted mobile devices and often use them for email.

 — The vast majority of buyers can be reached with traditional media.

 — They tend to rely most on websites and print magazines to research purchases.

For more takeaways, and the data behind them, the report is available as a 26-page, $99 download.

By Michael Moran Alterio

Are you focusing on your audience’s channels?

I saved a Dilbert strip from May 18. Dilbert begins by telling his female colleague: “You never answered my IM.” She responds: “You should have emailed me.”

“I did. You didn’t answer my email.”
“If it was so important you should texted me.”

They next get to phones and finally he says, “So here I am [in person].”
“It’s premature to get your hopes up.”

Portion of Dilbert Comic, May 18, 2014

Dilbert, May 18, 2014

I thought about that when reading Real Magnet’s recent post (on their thought-leading blog Real Insights) titled The Rise of Channel-Specific Content. Every person has their favorite way of communicating these days. I may reach my nephew by texting, my best friend by email, a former work colleague on LinkedIn, an overseas friend on WhatsApp, and a sports buddy by tweeting. And does anyone talk on the phone for anything but a conference call these days? (Half that time you’re on mute.)

The idea of channel-specific content is that you are tailoring your content to fit that medium. No longer can we be satisfied to put the same message on all these different mediums—you’ll lose people. Writes Real Magnet: “Today, channel-specific content is a sound marketing practice as it shows respect for the way your audience uses the inbox, Facebook, Twitter and other channels.”

They offer three steps for adjusting to channel-specific content:

1. Understand and describe each channel. Tell your audience what they will be getting on each channel—limit the surprises. “…you may use your email list for a weekly newsletter, Twitter for customer service, and Facebook for promotions. Promoting them as such is a form of targeting, as your audience is signing up for the specific content you are providing in each. It also helps build anticipation.”

2. Use your email analytics to find the best-performing content. You’ve been measuring your open rates and click-thrus for a while now. You can do the same with your social media with engagement, retweets, likes and conversions.

3. Develop key metrics on channel engagement, not just message effectiveness. “…marketers are going to need to focus on optimizing each channel instead of each message. Develop and track a set of key metrics for each message that measures how much engagement you are driving in aggregate across the channel. For example, you might track ‘Likes per Post’ on Facebook, or ‘Mentions/RTs per Follower per Month’ on Twitter.”

Ryan Holmes, CEO of hootsuite, which automates your messages for different channels, wrote in a blog post: “Social media ushered in a new era of intimate, personalized marketing. Not surprisingly, consumers have grown less receptive to traditional ‘spray and pray’ mass marketing approaches. (Case in point: When 61,000 people were surveyed earlier this year by Forrester, fewer than a quarter said they trust email from companies.)

“To this end, the latest generation of marketing automation software is finding creative ways to bridge the gap: applying the intimacy, personalization and insights gained from social media on a mass scale…Companies that find ways to integrate social media and marketing automation effectively will be able to reach more customers and strengthen ties with existing ones in the years ahead. Companies that fail to do so risk being left behind as ‘mass’ marketing takes its place on history’s scrap heap.”

The question becomes can we be everywhere our audience is or will we have to choose the channels we do best? The quick answer would be yes, we have to try to be everywhere. Real Magnet isn’t so sure: “…marketers will begin limiting messages to the channels in which they work best, in order to make sure that every message contributes meaningfully to its channel’s engagement.”

Stay tuned.

By Ronn Levine

‘Weird Al’ has a lesson for business journalists

Old-school media master ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has moved more nimbly into the age of the Internet than many marketers who were in diapers when Weird Al was parodying Michael Jackson and Madonna. Publications as diverse as Ad Age and The Atlantic have been writing about his Web-savvy “eight videos in eight days” campaign, out this week promoting his latest album, Mandatory Fun.

And in the last of the eight videos released, Weird Al offers a cautionary lesson to business professionals — and if I may presume a bit, to business journalists — with his new track, titled “Mission Statement,” which first appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog. The song features all the cliches, catch phrases and jargon that business writers would do well to avoid. Several of my own pet peeves were among those called out by Weird Al: “at the end of the day,” “cross-platform innovation,” “bleeding edge and next generation” and “incentivized” — even if a couple of those are reasonable in moderation, surely we hear too much of them at conferences and in the our own publications.

'Weird Al' Yankovic urges business professionals to avoid buzzwords and cliches.

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic takes aim at business jargon and corporate-speak in his latest video and song, “Mission Statement.”

Actually, in addition to “Mission Statement,” another of Weird Al’s latest songs is word-focused as well. Last week, he released a video and song, called “Word Crimes,” just for grammar nerds, singing about the perils of its/it’s, serial commas, less/fewer and the correct use of quotation marks.

We ignore Weird Al at our peril!

By Michael Moran Alterio

Event type diversity varies widely by company size

Taking a deep look at the kinds of events that media companies operate, ABM’s Event Council has completed preliminary research that revels some striking results: The types of events that companies produce vary widely depending on the size of the media company.

In the United States b-to-b events drive a big plurality of total industry revenue. Event revenue constituted 45 percent of the entire b-to-b media and info landscape in 2013 (the remaining 55 percent is comprised of print magazines, digital media, and database/information products). That revenue is keeping pace with inflation and a bit more; event revenue increased industry-wide last year, rising 3.3 percent from $11.66 billion in 2012 to $12.04 billion in 2013.

But it is a mistake to think of “business events” as a monolith. Even a broad characterization of events as “conferences” and “trade shows” fails to distinguish among the many kinds of events. The research polled ABM member companies and determined the percent of total event revenue that is generated by each kind of event.

B-to-B event revenue by event type, 2014

This weighted-by-total-event-revenue pie chart primarily reflects the priorities of the largest companies. And the overwhelming contributor to revenue is trade shows — with or without associated conferences, trade shows generate more than half of all revenue.

However, the picture shifts when considering smaller companies, those with event revenue under $25 million annually.

Event revenue breakdown by type of event for smaller companies in 2014

Medium-size companies ($5 to $25 million in annual event sales) seem to have developed niche businesses in award programs and conferences, which perhaps offer insufficient revenue to interest the largest players.

Both kinds of trade shows (and sponsored buyer events) are the tail that wags the dog for small companies that derive most of their event revenue from them. Training, single-sponsor, and other events each contributed 0 percent.

These results will be further explored with further research to be conducted later in 2014. For more information about the Event Council, which is open to ABM and SIIA members generally, please contact ABM’s Elizabeth Reid at e.reid@abmmail.com or call her at 212-784-6359.

By Michael Moran Alterio