B2B sector mulls online challenges

Monitoring user-generated content, deciding between volume and value and addressing different sectors within the market are some of the challenges facing business-to-business magazine editors, according to a panel at the Periodicals Publishers Association conference

One of the major challenges was retaining control of content on website forums, according to members of the panel.

Andrew Pring of the Morning Advertiser said he felt ‘an overstretch’monitoring the website and forums. ‘Every moment is potentially hazardous and exciting and very time-consuming,’he said.

He added that forums brought in an entirely different set of users who may have opinions that do not represent those in the main magazine or newspaper. ‘Sometimes there is the danger of those people we can’t control taking the magazine in a different direction.”

Stephen Cook, editor of Third Sector, said that his brand’s website had initially let comments go unmoderated, which led to it being ‘hijacked by people pushing a particular line”. As a result, he said the site had to become more stringent with postings. He said that the most commented on stories were not ‘high-minded’news pieces but ‘the scandal and people stuff”.

Quality control

Cook concluded that high-quality debate meant posters being edited. ‘One of the delusions of the net is that you can hand over control to the user and get good quality debate,’he said, adding that companies would have to spend to get high-quality editorial content online as well as in print.

Nick Edwards, editor of Construction News, said that the relationship with volume and value was proving challenging, with some in the former Emap Communications portfolio chasing high-volume traffic while others were looking for high-value product with lower traffic.

He said Construction News was looking at creating ‘premium information’that consumers would spend a lot of money on, but that his team did not have the skills to set this up at present.

Construction News readers were also not particularly interested in creating their own content, which meant the brand might be better suited to organising user-generated data, rather than opinion.

Richard Vize, editor of Health Service Journal, said that the title was looking at working with new markets it did not have an established direct relationship with and that it was addressing different segments of the health market. He said that about half the magazine readers used the website once a week.

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