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Friday, November 11, 2005

The Online Neals 

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is, smartly, adding an Emmy award category for "original video content for computers, cellphones and other hand-held devices, like the video iPod and PlayStation Portable," according to the New York Times. "'Television is transforming into moving images anytime, anywhere,' said Peter Price, president of the academy."

The Jesse Neal Awards have a Best Web Site category, broken down by traffic. But that's still too narrow a definition of what business media has become (or needs to become). And it's kind of lost among all the print entries.

It would be nice to see American Business Media take the lead in expanding Neal entry categories in the future (the 2006 entry form is here, and still just has the web site category.) Categories that the editorially-driven Neals could also recognize: Pod/videocast, blog, digital/electronic publication (original, not repurposed, content.)

I continue to believe that b2b media awards matter. Since the Neal is the granddaddy of US b2b media awards, it should take the lead in recognizing editorial excellence in b2b, across all formats.

Note: I think we also need to recognize editorial content in conferences and webinars, though I know that would be tough to judge.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Advanstar: "The Process is Moving Forward as Expected" 

During today's Advanstar earnings conference call, president and CEO Joe Loggia made only passing reference to the possible sale of the company: "We are in the process of exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale," he said, noting that it was too early to comment. He did add, however, that "We're evaluating a number of options, and the process is moving forward as expected."

Pretty docile conference call, at least as far as questions (only one was asked). As Loggia noted, "We had a very good quarter."

Interested info nuggets:

1) The company expects annualized cost savings from its corporate restructuring to be $9 million, with full implementation of the restructuring expected by Q1 2006.

2) The company's acquisition cost of the Pool and Project fashion events was $13 million, and there's also a performance back end. These events contributed $950,000 in the quarter.

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Advanstar's Q3 Results 

Advanstar's third quarter operating results have been posted this morning, and can be found here.

Salient details:

Q3 revenues increased 9.9% to $85.7 million, primarily due to increases in revenues on the trade show side. Publishing revenues continue to slide, down 1.4% to $34.3 million. EBITDA is up 14.6%.

There's a conference call today at 11 am EST to discuss the results. Information on the call can be found in the link above.

No mention of the possible sale of the company in the release.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New B2B Media Blog 

Content Matters

Dave Jung points to a blog by Barry Graubart, the EVP & Chief Marketing Officer for Leadership Directories. I've added it to my feed reader, and to my blogroll.

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Asleep at the wheel 

Rafat's takeaway from his DC mixer, held last week:

The traditional B2B information people are asleep at the wheel..seriously. They deserve all they're getting.

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Listening to Our Customers 

If you're in b2b media, and you're not regularly checking out Dave Jung's B2blog, you're making the same mistake that many of the attendees at Infocommerce 2005 made. Dave is the marketing manager for a test equipment manufacturer. He makes advertising decisions. He's our customer. And he's a really good blogger.

I attended Infocommerce specifically to meet Dave and hear him talk. Infocommerce targets directory and database publishers specifically, but all b2b media in their role as providers of data and leads generally. It's a terrific conference, and Russell Perkins is to be applauded for assembling a pretty stellar group of speakers.

Dave, who's a really nice and thoughtful guy, spoke in a breakout session, attended by about 30 people. I looked around the room and thought--here's the problem with b2b media. We have a customer willing to tell us how he evaluates our media, and the majority of attendees at the conference weren't there.

Click HERE to see John Blossom's (of Shore Communications) notes on Dave's talk.

My summary: For Dave, Google is outperforming industry-specific directories dramatically, not only in clickthroughs, but in quality of search results. And that's a serious problem for any b2b publisher.

Some more key takeaways:

1) Customers are being sold on the basis of clicks and page rankings, but users judge the relevance of the results they get. Industry-specific directories or search mechanisms aren't delivering relevance so much as they deliver who pays the most for top rankings.

2) Customers assume b2b directories offer unique audiences, but many directories use Google themselves to "skim" traffic. The point of industry-specific directories or search should be to deliver a high quality and unique audience. Dave points to Jeff Dearth's Vertical Search as a model that he'll be watching.

3) Most directories use categories to organize information, but users are accustomed to search, not sorting through categories.

4) Fixed pricing for directory listings or online ads is an issue. "Pay per click is like crack," he joked. No matter whether he uses a fixed price listing or a pay-per-click listing, he always translates the cost back to pay-per-click. And fixed price offerings don't compare well on cost-per-click.

John Blossom has posted complete notes from the conference here.

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