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'Right audience' takes priority over highest number of users, says Welsh

Better 17 of the right people visit your site, than 17 million outside of its target audience, said John Welsh, Digital Director of UBM Live, speaking at AOP’s first ever online event last week, 'the Growing Impact of B2B Online Media'.

Gone are the days of obsessively comparing traffic figures, he said - attracting the ‘right’ audience takes priority over seeking the highest number of users.

He stressed that UBM isn’t encouraging editors to ‘do social media’ to attract revenue – but rather to attract the right sort of traffic. James Foulkes of Kingpin agreed that from an advertiser’s perspective, social media, whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, is a useful way of pre-qualifying the ‘quality’ of a publisher’s audience.

Watch the full video of the event

The seminar was chaired by John Barnes - Managing Director, Digital Strategy and Development UK & Asia of Incisive Media, and also featured James Foulkes, Managing Director of Kingpin, and Tim Cain - Head of Research and Insight at AOP, who introduced the event with a summary of AOP’s Research on B2B Media Online. This research report confirms the effectiveness and growing usage of B2B online media as a leading source of information for business decision makers.

Paid-for Content

John Barnes quickly led the debate onto the topic of the day – charging for online content, with a poll during the event showing how widely opinions still range on the subject:

Will content increasingly be paid for online?'Will paid-for content online increase?' - 45% said yes, 35% no, and 20% maybe.Echoing AOP’s own summary on the subject, John Welsh said the key trigger for the debate has been Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch's declaration that the web as we know it is about to change caused consternation in some quarters of the industry, Welsh added, though the News International Chief faced a similar reaction in 1988, when he started charging for TV.

However, he argued that publishers hoping paid content will be their ‘get out of jail’ card for the next year would be sorely disappointed. Setting up an effective new distribution platform is no mean feat, he argued, with James Foulkes of Kingpin agreeing that paywalls were not “an easy win” in the current climate.

The knock-on from introducing a paywall might include user access and experience issues, and a negative effect on SEO, as inbound links drop off, However, the panel broadly agreed people would pay for certain types of specialised content, or for small communities of “high intellect professions”.

Key Areas

Leading the debate, Incisive's John Barnes then asked the panel which other areas B2B publishers should be looking at to profit online:

  • For B2B, they agreed there is still untapped potential in charging for special reports online, wherever publishers are able to provide “greater depth you can’t get elsewhere
  • Video promotion has produced up to 90% of responses for campaigns covering this type of paid content for Kingpin’s clients
  • Lead generation is on the rise as a source of revenue – but publishers shouldn’t simply be providing a list of names and addresses, publishers' strength, Welsh argued, is in the added value and creativity they can provide

Finally, with Google still our number one referrer, "usability, SEO and user experience are still key to all we do online as publishers", said Welsh. Our ultimate goal should be to "make these things as sexy, and discussed just as much as social media is now".

Watch the full video of the event

Homepage image by esagor

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