@ FIPP: B2B Sites Shift To Service Platforms; Put Faith In Paid Content

image Consumer magazines have been hit hard in the recession, while B2B publishers, with their targeted markets and high-net-worth audiences, have had a better downturn. Two big reasons for that: B2B publishers’ ability to charge for both on- and offline media, and the fact that leading business publishers’ websites are increasingly making the switch from passive information publishers to active platforms providing a range of services to both advertisers and readers. Here’s how three big-league business publishers described the innovation in their own business models at the FIPP World Magazine Congress on Tuesday…

Incisive Media:In the years to come, we will be charging, in some shape or form, for all our content. I don’t think that the controlled circulation model as it stands is that sustainable.” That’s Incisive Media CEO Tim Weller’s answer to a question on whether he is worried about competitors giving away content for free. Generally, Weller said the company is boosting revenue through targeting and defining its markets efficiently. But he added that Incisive is now a “market service provider” and is now using social networking to connect users and attempt to drive revenue. High-end US financial magazine Operational Risk and Compliance (subscription: $4,000 a year) has added 6,000 members to its LinkedIn group in the last six months while Incisive-owned Work Digital this year launched TwitterJobSearch, which Weller claimed had indexed 43,000 jobs so far.

IDG: US B2B publisher IDG Communications has been developing ad networks with third party advertisers, signing deals with social networks and syndicating the company’s content to other media as well as bringing in other publishers’ content. CEO Bob Carrigan said it’s part of a strategy to give companies audiences a platform they can use instead of information that they could get elsewhere. So not just news — he said IDG is “focused on building native apps to help users get their jobs done,” such as buying a computer or getting a new job. Carrigan gets his ideas not from the great names of publishing world, but the tech companies his journalists cover: “I take a lot of inspiration from IBM — it developed a service model and distributes not just its own products but other people’s too.”

FT.com: He admits the FT has been swimming against the tide since it began charging for content online in 2001, but Rob Grimshaw, MD of FT.com, told the congress he was still “puzzled why the rest of the industry has been running very fast in the opposite direction”. Grimshaw simply can’t understand why the internet, which gives publishers an unprecedented platform, is seen as a threat to publishers: “Much will be written in the future about how an entire industry managed to turn this opportunity into an enormous headache,” he said. For Grimshaw some publishers had been lazy in taking up the challenge while all are being “pushed around” by search engines that won’t index content behind paywalls as efficiently. He also points out the wider problem: that to make $50 million (£33.1 million) a year in ad revenue at a $5 cpm (£3.31) rate the average site would need to rake in 833 million page impressions a month; to make the same amount at $1 cpm (£0.66) you will need 4.1 billion page impressions a month.

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