Talent and Audience Data Driving Strategy, Survey of B2B Publishers Reveals

Asked where they see the most potential for growth in the next three years, B2B publishers placed lead generation first (28%), followed by events (22%), sponsorships (20%) and subscriptions (17%). The results come from UK’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP) in a report titled Digital Publishing: Outlook and Priorities for 2023.

Display advertising came in at just 9% of expected revenues in the AOP report while audio/podcasts/internet radio came in at just 2%. Wow. Monetizing podcasts is not going well in UK B2B. “The survey responses suggest progress in terms of preparing for the deprecation of the third-party cookies with publishers focused on their first-party data,” the report states.

More than ever, revenue diversification stands out as a primary goal for most media companies today. While the channels exist—events, podcasts, webinars, subscriptions, video, advertising, content studios, social media—finding the path forward takes effort and commitment.

“We built EBM with the idea that it would be resilient,” Chris Ferrell, CEO of Endeavor Business Media, told us late last year. “If sentiment moves away from certain products, we have many others that can take up the slack. If certain industries are struggling, then we have others that are having a good year and can make up for softness elsewhere. That is the whole idea behind diversification. It worked during Covid, and I expect it to allow us to navigate whatever 2023 throws our way as well.”

UK’s Future plc created a Future Wheel, made up of different monetization streams—print, advertising, video production, e-commerce. The wheel ensures that no one monetization model is dominant and has led to a stronger business model as market changes in one area have less of an impact on the whole.

Tara Lajumoke, managing director at FT Strategies, advised media leaders last year that long-term success required “multiple resilient revenue streams.” But she added that diversifying channels of revenue can be important as well—in other words, creating products or events for the different audiences that you have.

Here are four more findings from that AOP report:

Talent wins out. Publishers were asked, “Thinking about your strategic decisions, how important are the following organizational priorities to your business?” Interestingly, first was recruiting and retaining new talent. Next came ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace followed by developing new revenue streams through product innovation. Close behind were sustainability, data privacy compliance and reviewing your tech stack.

LinkedIn still in front. Which off-platforms are you investing in to drive content discovery? Forty-four percent of B2B publishers said LinkedIn, followed by Twitter at 19% and Instagram at 15%. (I think Instagram is the platform to keep an eye on.) “Revenue growth is dependent on audience growth and so we wanted to understand where publishers were investing off-platform to drive content discovery.”

Data driving strategy. [Almost 80%] of the publisher respondents “claim to be fully aligned as an organization to ensuring that their audience data drives strategy across their business, or to be investing in tools to enable them to do this.” While 23% are focused on improving the engagement funnel, there‘s a range of strategies being pursued by publishers to leverage the value of first-party data and their knowledge of their audiences—including shifting to engagement and attention metrics, and seller-defined audiences.

Sustainability leading to (some) more action. Publishers were asked how they’re responding to global challenges such as climate and the environment. Almost half chose, “We are considering how we respond to calls for businesses to take action to achieve ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] targets and expect to put them in place in the next few months.” A third said they have published a plan of intent and are taking action, while 20% said they are still formulating an organizational plan. Much of the motivation for emphasizing ESG comes from employees, while 58% agree that “advertisers and agencies expect them to be developing and implementing a policy to meet ESG goals.” Three-fourths of respondents said that they were focused on reducing the carbon footprint of their organization as a whole.

You can download the report here.


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