World Magazine Congress: B2B publishing - Keeping the community engaged in a 360-degree environment

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | October 13, 2011
The panel presented case studies on how B2B publishers are taking advantage of the changes in technology to inform, educate and engage their audiences profitably.

The second day of the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress saw the publishers from across the world discuss how the magazine industry is addressing the challenges it faces and seizing the opportunities that are opening up.

The panel on how business to business (B2B) publishing is keeping the community engaged in a 360-degree environment had eminent speakers from the B2B publishing industry, including Yuko Tanaka, director, international sales, marketing and communication, Nikkei BP, Japan; Kevin Costello, chief executive, Haymarket Media, UK; Pradeep Gupta, chairperson, Cyber Media, India; and David Hill, president and chief executive officer, international publishing services, IDG, USA.

David Hill, international publishing services, IDG

Hill took the audience through the digital transition his company went through in the last 10 years. While in 2001, IDG Communications produced 300 magazines and newspapers, 300 websites, and 168 technology events, in 2011 so far, it produces 200 magazines and newspapers, 460 websites, 700 technology events, and 200 live apps and mobile sites.

He pointed out that in 2001, the revenue of the company was skewed towards print, with the publishing business constituting 83 per cent of it, followed by events (11 per cent) and online (6 per cent). However, this has changed in the last few years and as per the 2011 forecast, print is expected to contribute only 44 per cent of the revenue share, while online has emerged as the second biggest source of revenue for the company, contributing 42 per cent share, followed by events (14 per cent).

Of the new revenue sources, online and mobile contribute the maximum for IDG. Apart from this, integrated services are also emerging fast and to tap this segment at the right time, the company has in place various integrated services such as IDG amplify, Mobile@IDG and IDG Connect.

Yuko Tanaka, Nikkei BP

Tanaka presented case studies from Nikkei BP, a Japanese publishing house that has 39 periodicals, over two million readers and 3,300 advertisers, and an annual turnover of 43 billion yen ($537 million).

Tanaka said that within the 17 key websites the company owns, including Nikkei Business Online, ITpro, Tech-On and Nikkei Biotech Online, total monthly page views exceed the 120 million mark and put together, they have monthly unique users of over 13 million.

Sharing the digital strategy of the company, she pointed out that the company follows two business models. The first model gives the liberty to the readers to access the content of the group for free, provided they register their profiles. The company monetises the data provided by its readers.

The second model, which promotes paid content services for individuals as well as for businesses, generates one billion yen annually for the company.

Tanaka said, "We provide reliability, extensive coverage and reader engagement to the advertisers. While our websites provide quality and diversified content presented in a timely fashion, our magazines have leading-edge information in the areas of management, technology and lifestyle."

The areas of focus for the group include social media, smartphones and integration. She said that Nikkei BP-originated information is spreading fast to social media as well, with 64.1 per cent of the respondents, who were also active on social networking sites, saying that they were also users of Nikkei BP websites in response to a survey carried out by the company.

"Also, most of our sites are equipped to create user-generated content. This allows interactive content and is stronger in relevance and higher in engagement," said Tanaka.

She drew attention to the increasing popularity of smartphones as a device to access websites. Of the 134,757,163 total monthly page views of Nikkei BP, 8,337,207 access from smartphones (6.4 per cent users). And, interestingly, while more people use iPhones to access the content of the magazine in the morning, probably when they are travelling, a majority shift to iPads in the evening.

She concluded her session by saying that there is a need for integration of digital marketing with content and users at the core of the business.

Kevin Costello, Haymarket Media

Costello said that the migration of the print business to the digital world has opened many opportunities and challenges for Haymarket Media. He threw some figures in the air and said that in the 40 markets Haymarket is present in, the revenues are equally split between B2B and B2C titles.

He added that for Haymarket, 60 per cent revenue still comes from print, 27 per cent from digital and 13 per cent from face-to-face events. For the company, the UK still remains the single-most profitable market, and while 19 per cent revenue comes from the US, 10 per cent comes from Asia and Australia.

Keeping this in mind, the company chose to decide its strategy market by market, and did not adopt 'one shoe fits all' strategy. "Deciding revenue streams meant spreading risks. Also, publishing skills could be seamlessly leveraged across the markets."

As the traditional publishing model started losing its momentum across the world, the company switched to unravelling the other more profitable business models that required smaller investments. He said that for years, the publishers had to unlearn what they had learnt so far.

One essential lesson for the publishers, according to Costello, is to think of cultural change. He said that while print publishers thrive on channel scarcity and push content to the audience, the internet, on the other hand, has destroyed that scarcity. As a result, the world is seeing exceptional content and the ability to engage with the audience, and this required a high level of sophistication to the approach of the publishers.

"It is not the expert content alone, but a good content packaged and distributed in such a way that it would maximise engagement," he said. He further said that the publishers have just started to realise this and have a long way to go.

Costello was of the view that the digital medium has forced the publishers to listen to the audience and act upon it.

Pradeep Gupta, Cyber Media

Gupta said that changes happen far earlier in the B2B space than B2C. The changes being witnessed by the B2B space today will be addressed by B2C sometime later. "The reason for this is that we have a very well-defined community -- clients," he said.

He gave a snapshot of Cyber Media that has 19 websites, 18 publications, 100 technology events, and 1.6 million online users. Revenue-wise, he said that 55 per cent comes from advertising, 15 per cent from digital, and 30 per cent from events.

"We have been continuously experimenting and using technology. In fact, we were the first ones to bring to India a series of jackets, 3D jackets, web portal, digital magazine, webinars and QR codes, so that we could engage our audience on a regular basis," he said.

All this is leading to integrated programmes, and Cyber Media hopes to generate 10 per cent revenue from these programmes.

The thing that worries him is the thin line between advertising and content. "It is rather more important in the B2B community because the people we write about are the people who advertise with us. It is something that needs to be tackled carefully," he concluded.

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