B2B magazines: doing the business

The B2B industry went through a turbulent time around the millennium, forcing publishers into innovative multiplatform thinking which has put them ahead of many of the consumer magazines.

Toby Hicks, communications manager at the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA), said that the B2B sector was hit by the rapid development of online job search engines such as Monster, as a large amount of revenue came from recruitment pages in the magazines. ‘Publishers sat down and thought ‘this could be the end of us unless we work out what we need to do’. And they very cleverly worked out a new model, which was to do their own recruitment and own events based around increasing knowledge – understanding the market and knowing the needs – so they started branching out.”

The finance and investment sector, latching on to the success of the City, has in recent years gone from strength to strength. Finance and investment publications now extend their brand on to any relevant medium – the three most popular being print, online and face-to-face. The inclusion of online has sped up people’s thirst for knowledge, and in the fast-paced financial environment, minute-by-minute online financial news, including market moves, delivered to desktops, laptops, Blackberries and mobiles, has been key.

Toby Finden-Crofts, group publisher of Professional Advisor, Investment Week and IFA Online at Incisive Media, said the use of rich media online – for example videos and audiocasts – has been a key strategy in developing relationships within the sector. ‘We’re moving away from simply attacking people with emails. People want to interact and feel that they get some kind of connection with their audience, so we have rich media platforms where people can watch and ask questions to people live or after particular debates have taken place. They get instantaneous response so if someone has sent in a question to us we’ll get a response from the market to them if they want it.’

B2B has always been an industry based around communities, and businesses have taken advantage of the popularity of online communities to develop them around their brand – blogs, forums and other social networking devices are commonplace. Recently, however, there has been a growth in the popularity of face-to-face events in the financial sector. Finden-Crofts said that people have stopped hiding behind their computers.

‘Events have become more important because it’s a people industry. People can spend time hiding behind websites, emails and magazines when really what they need to do is get out and talk to each other. I think that there’s been a kick back, where people want to get back out, hand people business cards and press them in palms, and to have face-to-face discussions to feel more effective in what they’re going out to talk to the market about.”

Revenue is no longer reliant on just display advertising and recruitment – advertising spend in business magazines actually fell last year. The industry now has income from licences, subscriptions to online services and display advertising across all platforms.

Financial content provider Financial News, for example, has been successful in selling subscriptions that include both online content and the print product and has also extended its brand to incorporate a lifestyle title, Brumwell, giving ideas to those working in finance on how to spend their bonus.

James Farmer, publishing director of B2B Marketing, a monthly title that provides info to the B2B marketing community, said that total advertising spending is up in the industry.

‘The strategy in the first place was to produce a magazine for the advertiser,’he added.

‘The more established titles, the major verticals, are seeing that while revenues are moving, online total spend is up and they have to offer more direct media.

‘The strategy for the B2B mags – yes their display revenue is going down because there are other mediums advertisers can go to – is producing products round it which will maintain it.”

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