Friday, October 09, 2009

B2B boss says a lot of what's published may not matter much to readers

The chief executive of B2B publisher Emap says that much business journalism has an inflated sense of its importance to its readers. According to a story in Press Gazette, David Gilbertson told the Association of Online Publishers that just because something is news doesn't mean it's "need to know" rather than simply "nice to have".

"Many B2B publications like to tell people in their industry what’s going on in that industry, ‘six people have moved from this company to that company, this company has just bought this business,’ those are interesting bits of information but does any of that affect my business performance and if I don’t know it will it matter?

"In practise a lot of B2B content is reportage and much business journalism is inherently in the nice to know category. Do business customers have to know that to do their business? Maybe, maybe not.

"Much business journalism celebrates newness and difference but does not illuminate meaning and put things into context. In doing that it can very easily over-estimate its importance in the industry."

He said the key question for B2B publishers is whether they can provide information digitally that is distinct and helped its readers perform better.
“If everybody has near unlimited audience quantity [online] then to survive profitably you have to be able to provide audience quality.

“To my mind there are two ways you can attract audience quality, either through sustaining your uniqueness of content or through quality differentiation that the customer actually values and appreciates.

“If you can find content that is sustainably distinctive and you have some sort of special value proposition that customers appreciate, then you can generate returns.”



Blogger Rick said...

I don't buy it. Through their experience or their networks, most business leaders know more about what is going on in their industry than any underpaid b2b editor. What they like is the stuff they can't find out anywhere else, such as gossip, events and "People in the News."
If the writer is trying to say that tradebooks should invest more in higher-quality journalism that explores more exciting issues and trends, fine. But don't confuse that with what their market wants most.

1:35 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

I take your point that key market intelligence is unlikely to come from an "underpaid B2B editor"; but the point of his comments, I think, was that the future health of B2B publishing was to have something (like a database) that nobody else has or to communicate ideas that make spending time with the magazine valuable. News and gossip seems to be migrating online, and from many free sources.

2:55 pm  

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