Execs from Google, Thomson Reuters, Forbes, CQ Roll Call, & More to Address Top Issues Facing Digital Content & B2B Media

Top executives from some of the country’s leading digital content and B2B media companies will convene in Miami, Fla., Nov. 10-12 for the first Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS). The new event, hosted by the SIIA will explore emerging challenges as big data, marketing, digital media and advertising become increasingly integrated.

During BIMS, executives from Thomson Reuters, Forbes, Google Enterprise, Penton, CQ-Roll Call Group, Randall-Reilly and more will offer insight on topics shaping the future of the information industry, including:

  • The Future of Data: How existing data products are evolving in conjunction with new products being created.
  • The Global Data Challenge:  The opportunity and logistics involved in collecting data on a global scale.
  • Gaining a Competitive Advantage in a Digital Age: Enabling powerful, streamlined collaboration across the world-wide value chain.
  • Customer Modeling and Behavioral Targeting: Data’s role in driving sales.
  • Multichannel Marketing: How the environment for successful marketing campaigns has fundamentally changed.

BIMS will also feature the following keynote speakers:

Arundel will discuss “How to Gain Competitive Advantage in the Digital Age” by identifying new ways to achieve competitive advantage in consumer and business markets as she evaluates the value of globalization and low-cost outsourced labor.

Leading the largest privately held business information services company in North America, Kieselstein has driven Penton’s rapid transformation by focusing on innovation and growth.

Reilly has made several strategic changes to transform Randall-Reilly into a top marketing services company which provides insights into specific market segments and then engages those audiences through targeted platforms.

BIMS combines three former conferences – the Specialized Information Publishers Association’s Marketing Conference, the American Business Media’s Executive Forum, and InfoCommerce Group’s DataContent Conference – into one comprehensive event that examines the trends of the changing B2B media industry.

WHO:           The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
WHAT:         SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit 2014 #BIMS14
WHEN:         November 10-12, 2014
WHERE:       The Fontainebleau, Miami, FL

For a complete schedule of events, visit: http://siia.net/bims/2014/schedule.asp. Updates in advance of the event are available using the conference’s Twitter hashtag: #BIMS14.

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The Connected Home – The New Frontier for Advertisers and Subscription Services?

Content brought to you by Joseph Sanborn, Managing Director and Head of Technology, Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. (JEGI)            

My dream of being treated as king of the castle in my home may finally become a reality, as connected devices offer the potential for a very friendly 24/7 concierge to pamper me as if I were a guest in a luxury hotel… but it will all come at the price of potential loss of privacy and more monthly bills.

One of the more recent noteworthy deals was Samsung Electronics’ acquisition of SmartThings for a rumored $200 million. SmartThings is a home automation company with the vision of “making everyday objects around us do more to make our lives better.” The SmartThings hub enables a simple mobile phone app to connect with a variety of sensors that are deployed around the home to monitor everything from temperature and water leaks to lighting and appliance controls—it can even let parents know when their children are at home or some repairman is napping in the den.

The Samsung deal follows Google’s move earlier this year to acquire Nest Labs, a maker of “smart” thermostats and smoke alarms for homes, for $3.2 billion. As competition heats up to be “the platform” for the connected home, expect to see a real debate about who owns the data, as well as wildly divergent views on how advertisers can, or should be allowed to reach homeowners in their homes. How much will advertisers pay, for example, to know when a consumer’s refrigerator is almost empty or the patterns of when and why one is going to the store?  And who will determine whether advertisers are allowed to have access to this data?  Will consumer product goods companies and large Internet players (like Google and Yahoo) be willing to subsidize appliance purchases by consumers, in exchange for access to this data?  

The rise of the connected home will also enable companies to offer a wide range of new services to consumers. In January, for example, Samsung’s CEO BK Yoon stated bold ambitions for the connected home at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: “Imagine getting a health check from your doctor through your TV. Imagine your family watching a TV show in the living room while you cook…this is streamed directly to a screen on your kitchen appliance. Imagine taking a call from your refrigerator without picking up your smartphone. These are all glimpses into the home of the future.”

If a consumer is already willing to pay $7.99 a month for Netflix and $29.99/month for home security, it is not hard to envision a family paying a subscription fee to have virtual wellness visits for their children or remote management services for maintaining their home network.    

Once the home is “connected,” we can expect “smart technology” to help us communicate with our home in a “Siri-like” way. Companies in this space will face a major challenge in attracting and retaining top engineering talent to develop the applications consumers will need to easily interact with their connected homes. To that point, two of the six acquisitions completed by Google this past month—Jetpac and Emu—were primarily acqui-hires of teams with artificial intelligence and related experience.

Jetpac focuses on “deep learning” technology, an emerging field in machine learning research. It leads to artificial intelligence by leveraging photos and other sensors to help applications learn more about their environment and users. Emu, a new mobile messaging application, incorporates a virtual assistant to automate tasks based on contextually understanding your conversations (e.g., scheduling appointments to your calendar, setting reminders, making restaurant reservations, etc.). Not surprisingly, the technology behind both companies had deep Silicon Valley ties to Google and Apple (in the case of Emu).

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss any topics related to JEGI’s Tech Coverage or your company’s M&A strategy.

Tips to Keep Subscribers Renewed and Feeling Special

“I think as we’re struggling to connect in this world of digital, the tendency is to flail and do a lot of one-offs and I’ve found it’s very successful to create frameworks where we can explore an ongoing relationship.”

You might think that the above quote emanated from a prominent newsletter publisher, but it came from Anya Grundmann, director and executive producer of NPR (National Public Radio) Music. She was speaking from the Next Radio Conference in London—as reported on the excellent Journalism.co.uk site.

Specifically, Grundmann was talking about the ultra-successful Tiny Desk Concerts that NPR has aired since 2008. The cd-filled shelves and desk area of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen provide the intimate setting. The musicians who perform are incredibly diverse in every way, from Adele (more than 2 million views), John Legend and Nickel Creek to Suzanne Vega, Rodney Crowell and Afro Blue.

The concerts are under 20 minutes, feature a smattering of applause from NPR staff, and usually inspire you to hear more. They also add up to quite an archive. “The idea was to create ‘something spontaneous, that they won’t hear anywhere else, that feels really special’ explained Grundmann.”

Those are three pretty good goals for a digital publisher. I asked Lindsay Konzak—former vice president of content for Gale Media, frequent and popular speaker at SIPA conferences and now the founder and president of 3 Aspens Media—how she worked to achieve those goals at Modern Distribution Management, which is published by Gale.

“It would have been very easy to give in and publish the same content our competitors published day after day online,” Konzak wrote me in an email. “…but if our publication followed suit, we would become a commodity. No longer would we be able say we were worth the price of a subscription.

“That philosophy drove our editorial decisions. So while newspapers and other publications struggled to put up a paywall, we never tore ours down. We continued to up our game so that when we said we were offering content our subscribers couldn’t get anywhere else, we meant it. We started promoting our publication as ‘original, in-depth, research-based content.’

“That content included annual research on various topics, including e-commerce and the industry outlook,” Konzak continued. “Readers started to look forward to those annual updates. As a result, we were able to build relationships and trust with our readers that they didn’t have with other publications. Though we never referred to them as such, they’d often call me and say they were a ‘member’ when asking for help on something. That just goes to show how MDM has been able to make their subscribers feel as if they were in the inner circle, so to speak.”

MDM uses a number of tools to keep readers engaged and feeling special:
- Thank you cards signed by editors for subscriptions and renewals; also included is the editor’s phone extension which subscribers use;
- Renewal letters signed by the editors;
- Content enhancement. Readers would call with questions on content and be directed to one of the editors. This is a core value for MDM.
- Frequent online surveys of readers and ongoing references to that data in blog posts; they also send those survey results from an editor to all respondents.
- Editorial Advisory Board, a group of readers that participates in quarterly calls about key topics in the industry, as well as provides feedback on products;
- Extra content for premium subscribers on a monthly basis.

Those fit squarely in making your audience feel special and giving them unique content. But what about spontaneity? I’ve suggested making webinars feel more like live events rather than rehearsed readings with short Q&As. The tendency might be to become complacent because your webinars are doing well. But from what I’ve read, audiences like to know they are in a “live” setting. So stopping for a question or two early or going “off-script” would help convey that feeling.

Having one of your writers/bloggers host an online chat to follow up an article could also work. NPR tries to engage their local communities with things like an Austin Music Map. SIIA has our INFO locals. Most B2B publishers are less locally oriented although the word “community” remains something everyone strives for.

“One opportunity for spontaneity for publishers is in using social media more effectively on both the editorial and marketing fronts,” Konzak wrote. “There’s still a lot of untapped potential to use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to make surprise announcements (promos to thank your loyal followers?), push out analyses of a big news story or engage followers in a conversation. Perhaps this is more like planned spontaneity, but using these platforms as a vehicle to engage readers in a less formal way can have a big impact when done effectively.”

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

SIIA Previews: Showcasing Innovative Companies Transforming the Information Industry

SIIA will be holding their 10th annual Previews at the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) November 10-12 in Miami, Florida.

SIIA Previews seeks the most innovative companies who are currently transforming the information industry. Selected companies are given the opportunity to present at BIMS to over 400 leaders from the business information and media industries. Previews presenting companies present to secure funding, strategic partnerships, new customers or even an exit.

“Over the years we have seen some of the most innovative companies present at SIIA Previews,” said Larry Schwartz, Newstex President and Chairman of SIIA Previews. “We are looking forward to integrating SIPA and ABM companies into the Previews and taking the program to Miami.”

As a result of presenting at Previews several alumni have received investments or have been acquired. Over the years SIIA has featured 100+ companies during the Previews program at SIIA Conferences.

  • Pubget: was acquired by SIIA Member company Copyright Clearance Center.
  • Associated Content: closed $6 Million in Series C Funding
  • FeeDisclosure: purchased by Bankrate
  • Generate, Inc.: purchased by Dow Jones
  • Keibi Technologies: purchased by Lithium Technologies

To see the full list of Previews Alumni updates visit our Alumni page.

How to Apply:

B2B content, information and media companies (publishers, aggregators, and technology plays) with under $10M in revenue should apply to present. All SIIA Previews application submissions must be made from companies that provide content or content technology products or services, have received no more than a Series A round of financing, generate no more than $10 million in sales, and have actual customers.

Apply now.

Be sure to register for SIIA Previews by September 25. Check out our full schedule and networking opportunities. Click here if you would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. Stay up-to-date on BIMS news by following us on twitter #BIMS14.

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Bailey Set to Dispense Analytics and Social Media Wisdom at BIMS

“I was recently interviewed for a webcast/podcast by one of these young guys in a new company,” Matt Bailey told me on the phone last week. “So I went through one of my training modules for him. It went well. He wrote me right after—wait, let me find the email—about what was going to happen after this thing went live. Really impressive. It was much more than just getting it out there.”

Bailey started to read from the email. “‘The podcast went live this morning, here’s the link, here’s who it goes to, here’s where and when it will be reposted within 6 weeks. A system marker will go out to promote each podcast.’ Rinse and repeat,” he added.

Anyone attending Bailey’s 2½-hour social media workshop on the morning of Nov. 10 at SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Miami Beach will leave with a similar plan. (Early-bird pricing ends tomorrow!) The first hour he will lecture but the second hour will involve calendars and active planning. Your social media work “should be something you can do in a half hour each day if it’s planned right.”

I knew I was on the same page with Bailey when he said, “Publish great content and make sure people know it’s there.” He even pointed to that same New York Times leaked Digital Report that I’ve often referred to. “One of the big things I pulled from that is the different mindset of The Huffington Post. When you finish writing a story there, it marks the beginning of its article life. For The New York Times it marks the end. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Listening to Bailey is both a learning and pleasing experience. It helps that he’s in a good place, accepting a recent offer to sell his client services business to a former partner, giving him more time to do what he loves—speaking and training. “There was a limit to what [speaking assignments] I had been taking,” he said. “I’ve developed online marketing training for the DMA and Lynda.com. And now I’m working on my own as a follow-up to my talks.”

He also teaches a bit at Rutgers University and has a new book coming out titled Wired to Be Wowed: Great Marketing Isn’t an Accident. “It’s different [from his first, the more textbooky Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day]. You can read this one on a flight and be happy. Although the first one is still relevant because I never talked tactics, always strategy.”

“Having a publishing schedule is the key,” Bailey said. “What content can you plan for, do ahead of time? Every Thanksgiving you can do an article about this. Get it ready. Is it good Facebook content? Two weeks later let’s put it on Facebook with a different picture and headline. We’ll look at what we got in likes and see if we can beat it.

“You don’t pre-push on Twitter; no one cares unless it’s timely. Where does it make sense to push this article? When are we going to do it? How? Break into little parts? Then we’ll do a content marketing and social media marketing calendar.”

Bailey laughs hearing himself say content marketing. “I think I’ve been doing that for many years.” As for social media, so many people are using it yet failing to identify who their target customers are. In his training he asks, what makes you decide what you put on Facebook? Your target market is upper income people in their 40s 50s and 60s. So think about who you have dealt with, the name, the face, who have you met? Are you posting Facebook updates that that person would want to read? Are you speaking to the people you’re trying to target?”

Bailey watches many companies put young people and/or interns in charge of their social media “because they’re young and they know the stuff. But they don’t know how to identify target markets, he said, and lack the experience to get the most out of it.”

“There’s a decision-making matrix [in social media] that you can look at from an ROI perspective,” he said. You can look at behavior, who is contributing, whether people are reading more than one article. If they come from this source, what do they tend to do? Are they looking at that page and moving on?

Bailey’s other big go-to is analytics. He’s also presenting a session at BIMS on online testing. “Analytics is the heart of marketing; it’s where you learn,” he says. “So many companies don’t ask that next question or they may not be talking to [their audience] correctly.”

I recall Bailey delivering sessions on Google Analytics that were clear and insightful. Is that still a focus? “Yes, it remains a good starter package,” he said. “If you’re not using it, you’re banging your head. If you’re doing e-commerce with any level of seriousness, not just sales calculations, but inventory…it’s the way to go.

“If you want more accurate, drilling down information, you could pay for another analytics package. But very few people are using all of Google Analytics. They are using maybe a fourth of what it can do. Are you tracking goals? Do you have goal values established? That’s an important conversation. What’s your value of a subscription vs. the value of an email address? [Can you say] it’s worth this much to get an email address?”

I asked how he keeps up with all the changes. “Authorship has changed, links have changed, but the more things change, the more they stay the same…If you focus on one area, you lose sight of the holistic development standpoint, so it’s best to keep [new things] at arm’s length, unless it fits. That’s what I’ve always done.”

In his session on online testing, he will look at the tools on the market like iTracking and A/B testing. Some are well-known, some not. But he will also get across the message that testing is more than taking a day or two every month to test a couple things. This is the behavior of your potential customers!

“People with testing experiencing get great results and can point to why. They make time. It comes down to ultimately creating a culture of testing,” he said. “You can start small, so people can see the results [and why you are] trying to produce a data-centric culture. Before we can get anything, what does the data say?…What is a good third-party way to look at my data, to test in a low-impact, high yield way?”

With some speakers, you leave their session with notes. With Bailey, you’ll leave with a plan.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

The Value in Creating a Data-centric Culture

Finding out what the customer wants has officially become the new standard. It reached the comic strip Dilbert over the weekend.

“I think we need to be more customer-centric,” Dilbert tells the big boss.
“You mean raise our prices?”
“I mean focus on the needs of our customers.”
“You mean we should be a monopoly so they need us?
“Um. No. We should find out what they need and then give it to them.”
“They need to buy our products…”

Andrew Leighton, director of product development and licensing, for Aroq Limited in the U.K., also told me how valuable data is to his business.

“Yes, the focus is still to have data in our products to increase value. Data complements data. There might be a news story on exhaust suppliers and that leads to QUBE [their online platform for their automotive vertical] where there is a whole sector’s worth of data on exhausts. Customers can look at that and 10 years plus archives of news—and then drill down from there. The challenge we have is that customers see value in the data but then may not want it. They actually want this, this and this. So that can be an impediment to development.”

Yes, one problem with testing and data is that it might not come out the way you want. We need to be results-agnostic, just rooting for clear data and not any one side.

Above all, “you’re trying to produce a data-centric culture,” Matt Bailey, a consultant and founder of SiteLogic, told me last week. “Before we can get anything, what does the data say?”

“I looked at a proposal for a $50,000 redevelopment to a website. ‘I mean I like the sketches,’ I told them, ‘they look nice,’ but why is it there? Is the data there that people aren’t responding to what you have currently and will respond to what’s here? You have a lot of nice looking things but no data.”

Have they tested the various parts of the website to see what is working? That’s a huge part of what Jellyfish does.

“Testing is fundamental to what we do,” said Carola York, managing director of Jellyfish Publishing. “Our mantra is test, analyze and refine. We test every element involved in a campaign—different keywords, different landing pages, wording on the call to actions, colors on buttons etc. Once we have attracted a potential customer [to a site], we want them to stay and then sign up. And we’ve learnt that beautiful doesn’t always work. A designer might say that the creative needs a full overhaul, but in reality, the existing creative can work better, with just a minor tweak. What’s key is to split test and look at the results. The numbers ultimately tell.

Of course, testing takes time, but Bailey concurs with York about its importance. After all, the purpose is to monitor the behaviour of your potential customers!

“People with testing experiencing get great results and can point to why,” Bailey said. “They make time. It comes down to ultimately creating a culture of testing,” he said. “You can start small, so people can see the results [and why you are] trying to produce a data-centric culture. Before we can get anything, what does the data say?…What is a good third-party way to look at my data, to test in a low-impact, high yield way?”

“That’s what we get paid for,” York said when asked about the time testing takes. We monitor all the key statistics every single day. The closer and better you manage a campaign, the more you get out of it.”

The now-famous New York Times digital report acknowledged much more than once the absence of a data-centric culture. So big or small, having all the resources at your disposal clearly isn’t the answer.

“We don’t regularly use data to inform our decisions in the newsroom, which means we are missing out on an opportunity to better understand reader behavior, adjust to trends and drive traffic to our journalism,” the report said. “This makes it more difficult to set goals and assess progress. A strong analytics operation is essential to every one of these digital needs.”

I’m sure almost every person I interview would say amen to that, Bailey double or triple. I found one other note in the Times report interesting. They wrote that the Times needs to “find ways to empower our current digital staff. We want a culture of experimentation in the newsroom. For example, we could give producers responsibility for more testing, and then ask them to share their findings with the organization.”

Sharing. Testing. Empowerment. Analytics. Data. Could be a new acronym. In STEAD we trust. Hmmm? I’ll test it.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.


7 Proven Sales and Lead Generation Ideas From Members

“We’ve gone from being a direct mail company to a sales organization and now have 50 people in sales,” said Dan Oswald, CEO of BLR, at the recent SIPA Conference. “Feeding that beast is a big job. [You don’t realize] how quickly you run through customers. We [constantly] need new names. Where I sit at the top, this is the next big thing.”

You can imagine why then it was decided that the next Publishers Roundtable would focus on Lead Generation. It will take place Tuesday, Sept. 23, here at SIIA offices in Washington, D.C. (A few spaces are still available.) Roundtables are focused, unhurried and participant-centric, and offer case studies and solutions. Among the speakers, Danielle Ballestra of CFO.com will talk about how they used marketing automation to completely turn their lead gen program around.

Here are 7 ideas that I’m sure will be discussed:

1. Post a popular white paper. Access Intelligence’s eventmarketer features free white papers to download titled, “How to Leverage Instagram, Snapchat and Vine in Events” and “Think Sponsorships Are Just for Big Brands? Think Again.”

2. Don’t leave anyone out. ”…if you’re on Salesforce, there’s a little bar that asks, how long has it been since someone’s been contacted, and it’s either green, yellow or red,” said Phil Binkow, CEO of Financial Operations Networks. “Sales people always want more accounts…the way you get around that is if you can use Salesforce to create a report that shows the people on their list that they haven’t contacted. ‘Let’s look at these guys that you…haven’t had a discussion with. What do we have to do to get through those too?’”

3. Sponsor a video competition. “Show the love!! Win a $25 Target gift card just for sharing in a video how much you love Chesapeake Family Magazine, ChesapeakeFamily.com, the Top Events this Weekend Enewsletters, Summer Camp Fair event or anything else we do.” So let’s see, Chesapeake Family gets valuable names and free promotional videos. Not bad.

4. Use your contacts. “We have [our leading] sales reps who go after the C-level executive and others who go after the individual,” said Ryan Stillwell, chief operating officer, Vantage Production. “So the first thing when we look at that on a large scale is who knows someone at that company. Because I can have a bunch of sales reps but if I look at them and one says, ‘hey, I know Phil and he’s the marketing director over there,’ and it’s a good sales rep, it’s yours. In relationship-based selling you’re trying to establish that.”

5. Run contests. In the successful NJ Family Contest that Cindy Mironovich runs every year, readers nominate their favorite doctors, dentists, speech/language therapists, and many other professionals, “who work hard to keep kids healthy.” It’s good lead generation because readers have to provide their contact information in order to nominate.

6. Match reps with leads. Bobby Edgil, VP of sales at BLR (and a speaker at the upcoming BIMS Conference in Miami Beach, Nov. 10-12), said, “Our managers host a 30-day review at the end of every month…finding out where their business came from. One thing that came out last year was that out of 35 reps, certain reps worked certain lead sources better. Didn’t make sense to me, so we ran a 90-day pilot, and by taking certain people and putting them in certain buckets of leads, that revenue increased 13% in 90 days. You have to see what the story tells and build from there.”

7. Upset the dominos once in a while. Arno Langbehn, CEO of B. Behr’s Verlag GmbH & Co in Germany, told us about a sort-of lead gen promotion where a local pizza delivery company in Denver gave free pizzas to anyone bringing in (ripping out?) the actual phone book ad of their competitor, Dominos. Ahem.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

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