This guest blog submission is from Raisa Guillemette of Knowledge Marketing, a sponsor of ABM/SIIA’s Business Information and Media Summit.
If you don’t consistently check your LinkedIn account, it would be easy for you to miss how LinkedIn has slowly, but steadily positioned itself as a publishing platform. Ryan Roslansky, head of content products for the company has flat out denied LinkedIn’s shift into the media realm stating, “We are not approaching this from a publishing or media-company perspective.”
This shift into publishing began with LinkedIn’s influencer program. In the initial rollout of this program, a select few “influencers” and “thought leaders” such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and President Obama were allowed to contribute content. LinkedIn opened the publishing platform to 25,000 of its members on February 19th of this year, with the intention to steadily expand the publishing capability to all 300 million registered members. The publishing platform is still in beta testing, but you can apply for early access to this feature here. Whether they are trying to or not, it appears to me that LinkedIn is becoming a media company.
Either accidental or intentional, it appears that LinkedIn is throwing itself into the ring with traditional media and publishing companies. Let’s see how the two stack up against one another.
A Trusted Platform
Built for Professionals
Not only do professionals trust and use LinkedIn, they are now going to LinkedIn to highlight their own expertise on a particular topic. The publishing platform allows individuals and companies to display their expertise to a large audience of professionals who are eager to learn, educate, share and interact.
Now that members are free to post on the publishing platform, there is no need to join a Group or share content as a status update on your personal page. Anyone can search and find the content you are posting on a specific topic and read the posts you’ve written without being a connection or inside your network. If you write something that sparks enough interest, LinkedIn may even distribute it as part of their own aggregated content.
LinkedIn is different from other publishers because it pays nothing for its content, and to avoid liability it grants full ownership rights to its member-writers, while promising to remove, annotate or edit posts that violate its policies. LinkedIn is making money off of content they don’t pay for while never having to actually own any of it.
Publishers have collected a vast amounts of audience data from event attendees, webinar registrants, subscribers and website visitors. With all this audience data, publishers are at a distinct advantage because of the variety of channels they can use to distribute their content. Whether that’s print, digital, websites, live events or conferences. LinkedIn is only one platform which limits your overall reach.
The content that publishers produce is more credible, serious and better researched compared to what is considered news or content on a social media site. Publishers produce content that typically produces more traffic, higher engagement rates, and multiple reading sessions. Print has also been proven to increasereader’s retention.
As you may already know, you are at the mercy of any social network you are a part of. You have no control over the constant (and frustrating) algorithm changes from Facebook or how LinkedIn decided to just drop the Product and Services tabs from the Business Pages. Publishers have complete and total control over their own property. Your website and every piece of content that is created is building traffic and revenue for something that you own. Why would you send traffic to LinkedIn that could be used to rank in search for your own website?
Superior Tracking & Analytics
Giving up control of your content or giving it away for free is not always the best option. Not to say that all of your content should be gated, but we all know that tracking, testing and being able to measure every aspect of your business is crucial. Publishers by the nature of their business have tracking and analytics built into their foundation. From personal experience I can say I have never been overly impressed with social media sites tracking and analytic features.
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%.
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.
SourceMedia 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.”
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
In the first quarter of 2013, ABM polled 74 marketers about their expectations for future B-to-B advertising. Separately, Forrester Research polled 56 marketers in the third quarter of 2013 on the same topic. The results showed some deep parallels. Here are some responses to similar questions posed in the ABM research, called The Value of B-to-B, and the Forrester research, called Q3 2013 North American B2B Marketing Budget Online Survey, reported in a white paper called Focus B2B Marketing Budget Gains On Business Outcomes To Succeed In 2014. The Business Marketing Association (BMA) was a partner in both studies.
MARKETER BUDGETS ON THE RISE
Both research projects asked marketers to estimate their future budgets:
Both surveys show that ad budgets are on the rise. The later research shows a smaller forecasted rise, so the trendline is for continuing growth in marketer budgets, although perhaps at a decelerating pace.
DIGITAL SPENDING A PRIORITY
The two studies also asked marketers about their priorities for future spending, that is, detailing areas in which they expect to increase and decrease spending:
Here too we see similar trends: Digital ad budgets are on the rise across the board. More marketers plan to decrease their traditional print advertising than plan to increase it.
One major difference: Forrester found little support for face-to-face events (30 percent plan to decrease spending vs 21 percent planning an increase), while ABM found much more support for events (only 9 percent planning to spend less, with 38 percent planning to spend more).
RESEARCH FIRM FORRESTER URGES MORE SPENDING ON RESEARCH
One major “key takeaway” not supported by either research study: Forrester emphasizes that “CMOs must focus budget choices on customer engagement,” including “thought leadership.” Deep into the report, Forrester explains this takeaway: “Forrester believes that the survey reflects more conservative responses than we will see play out in practice.” Unsupported by its own results, then, Forrester advises CMOs to prioritize regional shows over national, to optimize digital and social, and to focus content creation on thought leadership.
“Thought leadership” means “CMOs will need to concentrate content marketing efforts on independent customer-centered research.” Or in other words, independent research firm Forrester advises CMOs to spend more on independent research, based on no actual research.
In related news, McDonalds top execs urge consumers to eat more hamburgers. Also, Rolling Stone Magazine says “Like a Rolling Stone” is the greatest song of all time.
By Michael Moran Alterio
In its latest World Magazine Trends report, worldwide magazine media association FIPP emphasizes the shift from print to digital as one of the most important revenue trends. FIPP estimates that worldwide ad revenue from digital sources currently outpaces that from print newspapers. And FIPP predicts that, globally, “Internet advertising will increase its share of the ad market from 18.4 percent in 2012 to 24.6 percent in 2015 … exceeding the combined total of newspaper and magazine advertising.” That’s for a combined worldwide media market that includes subscription and advertising revenue for print, digital and events with an aggregate size over $500 billion U.S. dollars.
The data on worldwide print vs digital b-to-b ad revenue over time shows illustrates this trend:
*in millions of 2012 U.S. dollars.
FIPP estimates that b-to-b ad sales generally make up about 20 percent of a $100 billion global magazine market. That business-to-business market is centered in Western Europe, North America, and, to a lesser extent, Asia and the Pacific, as illustrated in this chart of market share by region:
FIPP’s data dives deeply into specifics on 50-plus countries, with U.S. b-to-b data supplied by ABM. The report is available online and in print, and as a courtesy to ABM and SIIA, members can purchase the report with a 20 percent discount. For more information on FIPP World Magazine Trends 2013-14, contact FIPP’s Helen Bland by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention that you are an SIIA member.
By Michael Moran Alterio