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‘Thrilling to See it Happen’ – Transition to 100% Remote Work and Non-Event Revenue Give CEOs Optimism

When offices open up again, what will make employees comfortable enough to go back in? In an engaging and revenue-focused CES Deconstructed session titled CEO Power Panel: How Leading Companies Are Planning to Not Just Survive But Thrive, Arizent CEO Gemma Postlethwaite offered one answer that resonated with her colleagues and audience.

“We have tried to quantify this [with a survey],” she said. “We’ve asked specific questions of what you would need to have in place to feel comfortable [to go back to the office]. It’s very clear from our part of the world that until there are vaccines, most people will be uncomfortable commuting in and out of New York City. [Plus] 30% have school-age children.”

Of course, she also pointed out that “people who live alone and who work alone are itching to get back to more communication in real time. How do we serve our community and make decisions in the best interest of that community and families, and keep up productivity? We’ll embrace it and look at it as an opportunity.”

Tony Uphoff, president and CEO of Thomas, and Connectiv’s just-named 2020 McAllister Top Management Fellow, has accepted the commuting-will-be-tough mantra and went one step further earlier this year—100% remote.

“It was thrilling to see it happen,” he said. “We saw personal protection equipment coming out of China early on and did a couple things quickly. There were 2000 manufacturers who volunteered to make PPE, and we operate where goods are traded. Usage of Thomas is up 45%. The demand for our advertising solutions is up 100%… For us, this is an accelerator” to the direction they were already moving in.

In the hour-long session, four media company CEOs talked about finding the cents and sensibilities floating in our new uncharted seas. The consensus seemed to be, don’t count on events coming back too soon. Instead, find what can replace them both in terms of revenue and networking.

“We’ve really been aggressive with virtual and digital events,” said Tim Hartman, CEO of Government Executive Media Group. He believes it will be a while before we return to any semblance of what physical events looked like, so they will focus on digital advertising and marketing services and virtual events.

“I really want to avoid [this] and caution everyone else that delays in pushing back live events can be problematic. That requires keeping relationships going with vendors, venues, locations. It’s hard to do—delaying to August, then October, then 2021. We’re avoiding that. [Instead] we went to clients with a combination of new products and an incentive for digital advertising—convincing them that this is good idea. [Fortunately] it works for us. Our clients are open and are still getting paid by the government.”

Sean Griffey, CEO of Industry Dive and a holdout in the events world—although he said that they had been looking to acquire an events business before the crisis—said they have remained focused on solving problems for their audience.

“Culturally, our sales team doesn’t view themselves as selling advertising. And we’re not selling webinars or banner ads,” said Griffey. “They’re trying to solve customers’ problems. That’s allowed us to be very nimble… We’re always looking for something that has a foundation. I’m excited about peer-to-peer networks. How do we do that virtually? What do our audiences need? What do our advertisers need?”

They have “seen some tailwinds shift from event budgets to online. Our clients have problems they’re looking to solve, [and with us in] 19 different markets, we have a vast array of [solutions] to offer… In education [for example], people with remote learning solutions are coming out of the woodwork. We’re fortunate on how we can position ourselves. Sales and revenue are up.”

With those 19 verticals, Industry Dive’s doubling down on content has not gone unnoticed. Postlethwaite said that Arizent has also “invested a lot in our editorial content.” They’ve been able to pivot to an integrated approach, helping to make more truly meaningful connections for their clients. “We’ve made big investments in our studio,” she said, adding that clients are coming to them more for the content they’re producing. “We’ve been gearing up to have way more inventory for sponsors and have also seen a greater demand for valued leads and marketing services.”

Still, the idea of remote working and if not live events, then what permeated much of the conversation. “Are there emergent event models that will happen… that will be complimentary to live events?” Hartman asked. “If there’s going to be a new world, live will have virtual instances. Events may turn to more Netflix-like programming… We have the opportunity to create the next iteration of that. We’re just in the first inning.”

Hartman added that he sees more product and development energy taking place now, and—in a recurring theme with the panel—more added content. “We’re meeting more frequently. We’ve invested in podcasting; we have our own podcast for every editorial brand. Also six or seven white label podcasts. You can listen to a podcast while you do your chores around the house.

“We’re also spending a lot more time with our sales team, listening to what they’re hearing in the market,” Hartman said. “So they have the newest version of our perspective on the future… How we’re going to educate clients on what that will look like is an imperative for us as well.”

As for the working from home, Uphoff said that they are “thriving remotely” and will make coming in optional even when the situation changes. Griffey also said that they will be a lot more remote in the future. In addition, he said the pandemic affects how we all look at office space moving forward.

“Do we need more space to sit apart or less space because less people will go into the office? I will not force people to come in or get on a plane. It’s not on me to tell them they have to be here as long as long as they’re productive.”

The CES Deconstructed Power Panel session can be accessed here. The sessions continue throughout May. If not already registered for CES Deconstructed, sign up here.

SourceMedia Rebrands as Arizent, Preps Launch of New Membership Business

Eighteen months after SourceMedia named Gemma Postlethwaite its new CEO, the financial information company today unveils a new name: Arizent.

The new brand is intended to convey the company mission of helping to raise up and advance the financial industry as well as professional services such as accounting and HR.

“We’ve been bringing employees and customers along on our journey for the past 18 months,” Postlethwaite tells Connectiv. “We asked, what do we look like on our best day? How do we unlock our value? There is no sense in changing the name just for the sake of it. The essence of our value proposition is how we unlock actionable insights and analysis for our communities, business growth for our customers and personal growth for our employees.”

Like many of its peers in B2B media and information, the former Source has long contended it’s no longer just a media company and the new name helps emphasize its focus on delivering interlocking content, research, networking and more to its audiences, while selling integrated programs across the collective DNA of its more than 40 brands that span live events, peer-to-peer-networks, subscription services and media.

“The term ‘media’ is no longer adequate to describe the breadth of our value proposition,” says chief strategy officer Jeff Mancini. “Our communities are no longer content to be just passive consumers of content. They are looking for a broad range of insights and analysis that spans research, live events and peer interaction. The same is true for our marketing clients. In order to sell integrated programs, you need to talk about what you do differently. The value we bring today is not just through an IAB standard banner or a 10×10 exhibit at an event.”

As part of the rebranding strategy, the team broke down the three pillars that defined the company, including,

Transformative Ideas. “SourceMedia’s editorial brands have always stood out – and won awards for – their independent authoritative journalism. By investing more in original research and analysis, we can go really deep into coverage of ideas that are disruptive and transformative, such as AI and technology, that are moving the financial services sector forward,” says Mancini.

Community. “We then rally leaders around those ideas,” says Mancini. “We have over 20 live events plus new peer-to-peer networks.”

Redefining Industry Standards. A roll-up of Arizent’s benchmark products, such The Most Powerful Women in Banking, Best Banks to Work For, Best Fintechs to Work For and Rising Stars. “All these programs are research-backed and represent what we believe is redefining the industry standard,” says Mancini.

Arizent to Launch New Leader Membership Network in March

One of the most significant new initiatives for Arizent will be the launch in March of a new leadership network that will build off the framework of the company’s 17-year-old Most Powerful Women in Banking Awards as well as other gender inclusion programs.

But rather than just offer networking opportunities for a single demographic, the new program will include leaders throughout the financial services industry and offer members access to exclusive content and research, as the group collectively advances a common goal, like greater gender diversity.

The network features a corporate membership structure that enables members to participate in year-round programming, which will culminate in the latter part of the year with the Most Powerful Women in Banking Awards as well as the launch of a new summit (the name will be announced later in the year).

“We will be working on tangible things, such as getting more women on boards, helping to solve the pipeline problem of getting new talent into financial services and the summit will be the moment when we bring the most senior members together to report on how we are doing,” says Postlethwaite.

Marketers will also be able to participate in the network, not to be in sell mode but to be “champions of change” by offering resources such as data and training to the group, according to Postlethwaite. “For example, an executive search firm can sponsor one of the board events but their duties will not just be to thank everyone for coming but to make sure that every woman leaves that meeting with her resume done,” she adds. “Those are the very practical, tangible deliverables that we are looking for.”

While Postlethwaite won’t reveal pricing for the new network, she says the program represents a completely new business for Arizent at a totally different price point than traditional B2B subscriptions or media. “This starts to deliver on the promise of a community,” says Postlethwaite. “If you actually look at what it takes to build a community, not everyone is doing that. This is what we stand for and why we matter.”

More Growth, Less Niche

Overall, Arizent is seeing significant growth in its subscriptions and events businesses. “We’re fortunate that we have sizeable subscription asset, we have a sizeable events business and we have a great media business,” says Postlethwaite. “Over the course of the last 18 months, the team has been elevating the conversation with our media clients and turning them into true solutions clients.”

Postlethwaite says Arizent will see significant revenue growth in 2020 and that growth will stem from a focus on a community-first approach. Where page views once ruled Arizent now expects to grow subscriptions, events and new community plays like the networks. From there, marketing services becomes more effective due to a quality over quantity engagement strategy.

“You can now show up in a newly defined community that’s much broader and less niche,” adds Postlethwaite. “If you’re in banking, you shouldn’t just be in American Banker, you should be in all our brands. That’s where the growth is on the media side.”