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Friday, August 12, 2005

Analyzing Wired 

Steal This Magazine

GameDailyBiz does a stellar job of dissecting what makes Wired magazine work (click the link at the top of this post), and draws from it lessons that gaming enthusiast magazines can learn. There are many lessons here for b2b magazines as well. In fact, each subhed is a prescription for building and maintaining an influential position in any b2b market.

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ABM: Google is Our Friend 

MediaPace: Google not gunning for B-to-B

Steve Ennen posts on ABM's MediaPace that Min's b2b was off base with its July 25 analysis of the Millward Brown study on search in the business technology purchase process, and its potential impact on b2b publishers.

The post reminds me a little of the 12-stepping sharks in Finding Nemo, who continually remind themselves that fish are friends, not food.

Here's a key grab from the Min's b2b story, which I thought was reasoned and well-balanced:

Google wants to broaden its base beyond the direct-marketing clients who first latched on to performance-based text ads. Its New York office is advertising for b2b sales reps; and the head of that unit, John Topping, recently told VNU's Adweek that Google conducted the study to show b2b advertisers that search is an integral part of the enterprise purchasing cycle, even when it involves high-consideration, big-ticket items that they ultimately buy offline.

According to ABM's Steve Ennen, however: Sources at Google, say the company is dealing with the fallout [from reaction to the study] with the same incredulousness of any other story subject who feels misrepresented. The company says it has no designs on compteting with b-to-b pubs or sites, it is just the opposite. Stay tuned for some developments out of Google that might surprise several folks in media.

B2b sites are friends, not food. Can't wait for the surprising developments.

I know that thoughtful b2b executives like Rex Hammock will disagree, but I continue to think that Google is as much threat as it is friend to b2b media. I think Steve's "sources" at Google will need to address what many of us are facing, including Josh Gordon, who posted a comment to the ABM site on losing some business to Google. He writes: I recently lost a satisfied banner advertiser on one of my email newsletters who shifted his online money to "search." I recently failed to get another online ad campaign funded because the online money was all going to "search."

I've encountered the same with some of my clients, including the loss of a print/web advertiser who's now using a Google text ad instead to reach out to our audience. Sure, I can ban the URL, though there's a limit to how many you can ban, and I suspect that Google watches the bans carefully. Or I could try to compete on a CPM basis, but I don't know the exact CPM Google is charging for that ad (I get averages which shift daily). And of course, I still don't know what percent of the dollars the advertiser is giving to Google come my way, since that's a secret.

I understand that search is good for b2b publishers, and that rich content properly optimized is what drives traffic to our websites. And I think Google has done a tremendous job of changing the way we interact with the Internet, and access information. But that Google shark is hungry, and in the natural way of things, it's going to have trouble not clamping its jaws down on more than a few b2b fish as it monetizes the vast audience it draws to its search engine.

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The Influence Model 

Writing is on the wall (or web) for business press

Interesting piece from South Africa's BusinessDay by Anton Harber on the decline of general business media, linked above.

Key grab: Someone tell radio and television producers, for heaven’s sake, that business people who care about numbers such as the platinum or R514 bond price will monitor them live from wherever they are in one electronic form or another. They do not wait for the 6pm radio news or 7pm television news.

Much of this is true of a lot of our print and magazine coverage as well. It simply does not add enough value to the flood of excessive information already drowning the business sector.


Most interesting is a reference to Philip Meyer's book, The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. Meyer has graphed out the sale of the last print copy of the last US newspaper to some time in the first quarter of 2043.

Read the piece to see a summary of Meyer's three possible strategies for newspapers (and media, I think, in general): harvesting, going electronic or building an influence model.

I think most newspaper companies are in the harvest mode, paying lip service to the electronic option.

grab: The option he argues for is to invest in what makes newspapers profitable: their influence and standing. In other words, invest in better quality products that the market cannot do without, and people will continue to want and need newspapers.

Chimeric? Maybe, but there's a big truth here. Must-have information, analysis and opinion is going to remain valuable regardless of format or delivery mechanism, and audiences will seek it however it is presented. Commodity information will be just that, and be delivered however the audience wants it to be presented.

UPDATE: see MediaLife's story on ad page declines among the US general business magazines.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Penton: Another Acquisition 

Penton Media Acquires MSD2D

Penton Media's Windows IT Pro Group acquired MSD2D (Microsoft Developer-to-Developer), which produces "robust Web sites, partner directories, email newsletters, trade show programs, and Web seminars."

Two disclosures: I own a bit of Penton stock, and I grew up in Lake Forest, California, where MSD2D is located.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Primedia 

Primedia to sell specialized business publications

Reuters is reporting that Wasserstein & Co. is paying $385 million for Primedia's business magazines. I'm not back yet, so won't blog it. Except for this.

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