There were two moves by senior figures in the UK media space that caught my eye last week. Firstly, the formidable editor in chief of Huffington Post in the UK, Carla Buzasi, is heading to the world of fashion in a new global role for data and insight firm WGSN. The former Marie Claire associate editor Buzasi, who famously tracked down HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington to pitch a UK version of the news site following AOL’s $315m (£184m) acquisition in 2011, is to join Top Right’s WGSN in a newly created role as global chief content officer.
Secondly, Andrew Mullins, managing director of the group that runs The Independent titles the London Evening Standard and fledgling local TV station London Live, is to leave
the publisher after seven years and move to Informa, the London-based multinational publishing and events company, to become chief executive of its knowledge and networking division.
So that’s two high-profile media figures leaving what seem to be glamorous roles and heading off into the murky world of B2B publishing. I’ve worked in B2B for many years and have always been aware of its supposedly poor relation status in comparison to the mainstream media but what I have seen over the last few years has convinced me that Buzasi and Mullins are heading the right way.
B2B, Consumer and News media face many of the same challenges such as how to charge for content, how to keep ad and sponsorship rates high, how to compete in a world disrupted by social media and how to monetize data.
If we go back a few years, we saw the start of a period when publishers such as Reuters and Thomson, Bloomberg, and Reed Elsevier began to understand that they needed to get into the minds of their clients in terms of how they worked, what information they used to make decisions, when and how they used it and what tools and analytics they needed to use that information more effectively and efficiently to make better decisions faster. These publishers moved to supplement their product mix with acquisitions and organic growth. They started to become solutions providers.
They learned how to charge for content and realised that people will pay for business-critical info and that also that provided a very rich source of data.
We’ve seen the rise of the internal content marketing studio as the likes of The Drum, Digiday and AdAge realised that an ad on the page and the much unloved banner was not the be-all and end-all of the B2B commercial portfolio.
What they didn’t do was rush to embrace every tech-based solution that was offered. In many cases, online audiences were deemed not big enough to play with the majority of SSPs and instead maintained a decent CPM and more importantly retained a lot of direct advertiser and sponsor relationships.
Scanning the trade sites, I’m seeing some very big campaigns that are crossing from news trade to consumer to B2B from the likes of Adobe and Microsoft. Clearly, the likes of UM and MEC have seen the value in the trade press and I urge the rest of the agency world to do so as well. You’ve long asked for transparency of data, deep understanding of our audiences and increased creativity. We kept our side of the bargain. Over to you!