Commentary

The Need for Knowledge

I've been involved in media planning and buying for more years than I care to admit. I've put together media plans for consumer clients as well as business-to-business clients. I've worked on network and spot TV, cable TV from its infancy to its current more sophisticated offerings, outdoor advertising, direct mail, radio, newspapers, consumer magazines, trade magazines, and most recently, Internet media, e-blasts, and Web site marketing.

One thing I've noticed over the years is the need for more b-to-b research on how to best reach the b-to-b audience, how to continue to generate qualified leads for the client, and how to measure the success of a business-to-business media campaign. It has become more and more difficult to achieve measurable results of a b-to-b media campaign because of many factors that have emerged over the last several years. Things like the downturn of the economy, the preponderance of ad clutter, the shrinking of trade magazines and the elimination of Bingo Cards/Reader Services Cards to name just a few, have all taken their toll in providing clients solid evidence of a successful campaign.

The research for consumer advertising is momentous and can, in fact, be quite overwhelming. Nielsen, Arbitron, IAB, ABC, MRI, Simmons and many other services offer independent research on consumer advertising. They provide research on just about everything you could possibly think of. From basic information, like age and income demographics, to psychographics, geographics, viewing and listening habits, time spent at home, time spent in the car, spending habits, lifestyle habits, ad infinitum. There are seminars, classes, conferences, meetings, and organizations all designed to provide information and educate the media buyer and planner on all aspects of consumer media advertising and how to make it successful.

All of this is needed and available as it gets more and more difficult to reach the consumer in a way that is effective and measurable. However, I have yet to see the same type of research, seminars, conferences, or organizations designed to educate and keep us abreast with what's up in b-to-b media. While there is more and more information on b-to-b marketing, there seems to be a major gap in b-to-b media information.

The same type of information that is offered for consumer media buying would also be useful for b-to-b media buying as well. Things like:

What's new in b-to-b media? What are the new and emerging technologies and how can they be used in a b-to-b campaign?

What are new and creative ways to reach the b-to-b audience and break through the clutter?

What's working in b-to-b media, what's not working?

How can we generate more qualified leads for our clients, especially now that Bingo Cards and Reader Service Cards in trade magazines are a thing of the past?

How do we measure the success and ROI of a b-to-b media campaign?

Business-to-business media asks the same questions, and has similar needs as consumer media does, and I wonder if anyone else is experiencing this dilemma with their b-to-b clients.

Karen Loos is media director of Donald L. Arends Inc., an agency specializing in B-to-B media based in Oak Brook, IL.

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