It might have felt minus 12 outside, but inside etc. Venues St Paul’s yesterday there was a warm buzz at the 2013 AOP B2B Media and Marketing conference, as leading figures from the UK digital media and marketing industries gathered to discuss the big issues facing online today.
John Barnes, AOP Chairman, told a packed audience that digital B2B publishing had reached a tipping point. With its niche audiences and ability to engage quickly thanks to technology, digital B2B is in an extremely good place, he said. The tablet has brought home the need for curated reading, with publishers and editors directing people to the right data and stories. Often ahead of B2C, John described B2B as a pace setter when it comes to putting technology into the hands of the users.
Chuck Richard - Conference Chairman
Chuck Richard, Lead Analyst at Outsell and Conference Chairman, agreed. With brand new data from January 2013, some of which has yet to be published, Chuck set out his vision for digital publishers and marketers in the coming years.
The need to claw back the digital ad spend sets the stage for content marketing, he said, and volume was no longer king. It’s about quality, with the depth of the qualification of leads now top of the agenda – it’s all in the data.
Media companies have a huge advantage when trying to engage customers as, according to Outsell’s research, digital channels, events and print are the most effective methods. Real time bidding and automated ad-networks can lack the effectiveness and brand advocacy of traditional publishers.
Following on from Chuck was the keynote panel on transformation, which included Christian Frei of Microsoft, Stefan Heeke from Siemens, Conor Ogle at HSBC and Julien Roux from Caterpillar, moderated by Michael Toedman. Without doubt, content is key for all these big global brands and there is clearly opportunity for media owners to steal a march on their agency rivals by providing it. Siemens admitted they had already hired two journalists, with the aim of being more like a publisher and said that in a recent marketing pitch they were most interested in content creation.
With an almost insatiable appetite for quality content within budget, there’s got to be a bigger role here for media owners.
The Rise of Twitter and Google
The next session, moderated by B2B Marketing editorial director Joel Harrison, saw one-on-ones with Bruce Daisley from Twitter and Richard Robinson of Google on how search and social media can help the B2B conservation.
For Twitter, it’s about building a partnership with media owners to make a bridge to the audience – it’s a distribution channel. According to Twitter, half the content is created by just 1% of Tweeters and this 1% tends to be trusted sources, with upwards of 1,000 followers. On the receiving end, some 40% are passive Tweeters, preferring to use Twitter as a news source.
At Google, they talk about a dialogue – with media owners using Google + to get a conversation going and using it as a resource.
At lunch, like everyone else we caught up with some old colleagues, networked and asked delegates for their take away nuggets from the morning sessions. These included: don’t’ focus on the technology, focus on the user; Twitter charges a cost per engagement for promoted Tweets; be masters of the mix.
The Breakout Sessions
The afternoon saw the first of the break-out sessions. With content being a key theme of the conference, it’s no surprise the paid content workshop was full. Rob Andrews moderated the lively session with Rich Suttcliffe from Haymarket kicking things off with the good news that people will pay for content. Always have and always will. It’s about getting the proposition right, how to present it, bundle it and cash in on it, he said. According to Suttcliffe, testing helps, and but publishers must learn from the testing and be flexible.
This was echoed by Alistair McLellan of the HSJ. After analysing everything on the site, content gets moved in front of or behind the pay wall, newsletters will be optimised – their content and timing – and subscription pathways are clear and omnipresent, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to sign up. He also advised publishers to think like a daily – every day is a press day. For him, the magazine has become a weekly information dump.
Running simultaneously was the session on lead generation. Although the debate got quite heated at times, everyone agreed with Paul Cowan of DWA about the importance of quality content in establishing and nurturing leads. But brands came in for criticism for creating self-serving content - sales literature by any other name. Madison Logic’s CEO Erik Matlick said that too often the lead generation process was a one-dimension one-channel process that took too long. Given that data quality is perishable, lead generation should be a multi-touch nurturing process.
The mobile and tablet strategy break-out saw AOP Chairman John Barnes talking about his experiences with Incisive Media, for whom he is the Managing Director of Digital & Tech. He revealed that Incisive uses the term polymorphic publishing to help it think about how content should be produced for different screens and distribution channels. Stop thinking mobile first or digital first, think reader first, he said.
Good advice also came from Anthony Marris of OgilvyOne, who cautioned publishers not just to jump in but to invest with insight, and to think carefully about how to deliver advertiser messages in an engaging way.
Extra chairs had to be found for the packed session on Analytics, prompting moderator Chuck Richard to quip that he clearly didn’t need to explain why the topic was important to clients and publishers alike.
Phil Clark, of UBM Built Environment and Chair of the AOP B2B Committee, revealed his past life as a journalist, and went on to say that analytics can reveal vital information to help drive revenues and lead generation. The current crop of dash boards, however, are still not good enough, and he’d like what he called “better dark social measurement”.
For Matt Shanahan of Scout Analytics, the warning was clear: “The biggest drag on revenue is an anonymous user.”
A quick show of hands indicated that everyone is using analytics, but only a handful considered their strategy advanced.
The Final Keynote Session and Close
And to the final keynote session, on the future of B2B media and marketing. Five of the industry’s most senior and accomplished on the buy an sell side set out their visions and the audience voted on the most plausible.
Outsell’s Chuck Richard predicted that within 10 years, the shift from push to pull marketing will be complete; Bob Carrigan, CEO of IDG, sees the future full of service stacks; Marco Bertozzi of VivaKi, identified technology as the central pillar of marketing and cautioned publishers and brand owners not to give away their precious data but to use it to “bring advertisers and publishers together … to find the sweet spot”. For Tim Potter, content is the key to a successful future, while Stuart Giddings of Carat Enterprises said success will depend on strong content partnerships between brands and media owners.
Voting was close…and in the end… the winner was… we’ll leave that for you to decide!
And then we all adjourned to the bar better equipped to face the future.