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Opportunities & Threats: B2B Media

What’s the outlook for B2B media? Jon Benson, chief operating officer of the Mark Allen Group, looks to the future.

By Jon Benson

Opportunities & Threats: B2B Media
Jon Benson.

The economic headwinds as we begin 2023 are stronger than at any time in the past decade. Publishers must be smart, agile and prepared to evolve rapidly.

But there are still reasons for optimism – B2B publishers have vast experience in trading through difficult conditions and driving value for their clients. Core values of good journalism and an emphasis on well-curated data give clients valuable insights that will drive revenue.

Threats: A clear and ongoing threat to growth in our sector is declining print ad revenues. Talent acquisition and retention also pose significant challenges with the market now more fluid than it has ever been. Brands require experienced, knowledgeable networkers who can balance their clients’ needs against their brand assets. With the enhanced pressure on ROI, the value of key experienced staff and the necessity to retain them is critical.

Opportunities: B2B publishers are in a position whereby leveraging valuable data and insight for their clients, in bespoke audiences, can help to offset declining print revenue and kickstart growth. Therefore, modernising legacy platforms should be a priority, even at a time when resources are extremely tight. We must investigate ways in which we can provide high quality, verified lead generation activity for our clients, driving value, and making our titles an indispensable part of their sales strategy. Furthermore, encouraging good journalism will feed through to verifiable increased view time on pages across all media formats, giving publishers the power to report back to clients with meaningful readership statistics.

  • Communities: All B2B companies can see the value of online communities, where continuing the conversation away from in-person events or magazines helps increase engagement, gauge market sentiment and deliver deeper audience insight and data. But, in 2023, will publishers make communities commercially viable in their own right, or continue to see them solely as investments in their brands?
  • Live events: The successful return to live events is expected to continue in 2023. However, face-to-face and virtual should be regarded as complementary ways to maintain brand engagement and data generation – it’s no coincidence that the most successful media brands are agnostic and can deliver content through a multitude of platforms.
  • Digital subscriptions: It takes hard work but all B2B media companies need to be focused on their digital subscriptions. That’s paywalls and systems that enable frontline teams to optimise funnels and conversions. On top of that, we all need to identify or create must-have data or information services that our customers will buy enterprise licences to access. Wrapping journalism around data or workflow tools helps keep your resources used and relevant.

In 2023, the pressure for B2B brands will mount on all sides – pressure on margin, pressure on client spend, pressure on retaining talent – but there will always remain opportunities to drive value for clients congregated around good data and audience engagement.

This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide (PPG) 2023, which is published and distributed by InPublishing. You can register to receive InPublishing magazine here.