At its essence, B2B media is about connecting buyers and sellers. And according to Rajeev Kapur, CEO of 1105 Media, “Traditional lead generation with batch-and-blast databases and reliance on telemarketing will be things of the past in next 2-3 years.” His solution? Task his team with creating a new lead gen model that can deliver not just names but intent and predictive-based leads with high probability of purchase without need for telemarketing or databases.
During his keynote at last week’s Business Information & Media Summit, Kapur predicted the biggest changes coming to B2B in the next 2-5 years and challenged B2B companies to embrace technology rather than just react to it. He offered a peek behind the curtain at how 1105 is trying to change the way B2B lead gen is conducted.
“Typically we as publishers played a role at the top of the lead funnel,” said Kapur. “We can better leverage our assets to be a deeper player in that funnel. A lot of B2B media companies focus on the awareness stage. In the next couple of years, B2B companies must be more engaged across the full funnel and that’s what data will allow us to do. You’re going to see lead gen become a greater extension of the sales team. Our customers are looking for ways to cut costs, and they want us to start appointment setting and doing the first level of sales. That’s not the business we’re going to get in; we don’t do that well. What we can do is get deeper in the funnel, be stickier in that relationship.”
To that end, 1105 has developed Project BOLD (Beyond Ordinary Lead Delivery), a patent-pending algorithm that predicts a company’s purchase intent based on what its employees are reading on the Web. “As of today, in almost real time, we are tracking reading habits and over 10 billion interactions per day at 1.5 million companies,” said Kapur. “We expect that to rise every month. We have been able to link each employee interaction through IP and other identifying technologies and score it by topic content consumption and apply a predictive machine-learning algorithm that uses volume frequency and proprietary metrics of interaction to predict whether a company will purchase a product within a specific time frame.”
Project BOLD is currently in beta test but represents the opportunity that Kapur sees for B2B media companies. “We are not just a collection of media assets but a leading example of ecosystems of events, data and marketing services that can help our customers be successful,” he added.
Kapur predicted that in the next 2-5 years, the industry will see massive consolidation. “Every 4-5 years, something happens that triggers consolidation in media,” he said. “Y2K, the rise of Google in zeitgeist, the launch of YouTube and the rise of individuals becoming influencers has all shaped media today. We are well overdue for the next wave.”
But perhaps the greatest risk is losing control of our customers. “As companies, we need to innovate to provide new experiences,” said Kapur. “If you [don't] embrace marketing automation in the next 18 months, you will be left behind. Traditional media is no longer the gatekeeper. Today, clients can directly reach customers without our help. Everyone is a content producer today. How do we keep our audience coming back to us? Content will always be king but content drives community and community drives commerce. Edit teams cannot simply regurgitate content; they need to think about new ways content can engage. In the next five years, I would be surprised if artificial intelligence and bots haven’t revolutionized how content is used.
"Companies are challenged not because they do the wrong thing, but they do the right thing for too long. If we aren’t thinking about more engaging content and better, cleaner databases, customers will say, why do we need you?”
Kapur sees opportunity for B2B media in:
Creating Communities. “Everyone is trying to figure out social media, but I say B2B media companies shouldn’t fixate on social,” said Kapur. “I haven’t seen any really good examples of B2B companies leveraging social well. My recommendation is to be focused—leverage LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, don’t go running to Snapchat or Instagram. And we have the opportunity to build our own social communities. At 1105’s TDWI brand we just launched a new membership platform with content, a job board, community integration. Is it really social media? No. But it is social engagement.”
Serving Millennials. “This is obviously our next generation of customers but before you serve millennials, you need to understand them,” said Kapur. “They will not touch print unless its super niche with high production value. They get their news from the Apple News app, Snapchat and Twitter. The younger ones are not getting it from Facebook. Content will have to evolve and be more episodic to hook them in. That’s why I believe AI and machine learning will be key strategies. Millennials are also driven by influencers. Influence over substance will be the future. Forty-seven percent of millennials will engage with a brand if they have a way to influence the brand. B2B brands that speak specifically to millennials will have influence.”
Events. “Face-to-face is important in an ever increasing virtual world,” said Kapur. “More than ever, people value time away from the office to be with peers. Events need to be more interactive and participatory, rather than being talked to. Earlier this year, we tested a new show format with TDWI—attendees said it was more engaging and felt like TechCrunch disrupt. We’re adding elements that you usually only see in B2C. People want to be part of the process. We’re trying to think about how attendees can help us shape content in advance of an event and then deliver that content to them there. That’s the big question for events.”