At ABM annual: Debate over marketing services

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Austin, Texas—Several sessions at American Business Media's 2011 Annual Conference continued the debate about marketing services that has characterized the meeting. During a panel discussion Monday called “Business Media Case Studies,” Scott Vaughan, CMO of TechWeb, showed how the unit of United Business Media has transformed its business model and now generates about half its revenue from non-media sources. TechWeb still derives revenue from its business information media properties, such as InformationWeek, but increasingly it relies on revenue from what Vaughan calls “marketing as a service,” which includes helping tech companies develop content marketing programs and nurture leads. MaaS also includes new initiatives such as “community in a box,” which helps individual tech marketers build online communities around content. On the same panel, Andy Goodenough, president-CEO of Summit Business Media, offered a counterpoint to TechWeb's aggressive pursuit of marketing services. Goodenough said Summit's audience and advertisers weren't ready for marketing services to the degree that the early adopters of the tech audience are. He also offered the point of view that marketing services isn't the new concept it's cracked up to be. Many business media companies have offered marketing services such as research and custom content for decades, he said. The degree of marketing services business media companies should offer was also debated by another panel Monday. The “Working Together in New Ways” session featured Mark Wilson, senior VP-corporate field marketing, at Sybase Inc., who said lead quality is essential to the company's marketing and sales teams. “The quantity game is over,” he said. Wilson also described how Sybase has transformed its marketing team by adding former journalists to aid its content marketing efforts. Michael DeLuca, president of Meister Media Worldwide, said his company has moved into creating more custom content for marketers. Kim Paulsen, senior VP of Penton Marketing Services, discussed Penton Media's foray into marketing services, which took shape after the company's acquisition earlier this year of digital marketing company EyeTraffic Media. Among the marketing services Penton is offering its advertisers are website development and SEO services. Gary Slack, chief experience office of marketing communications agency Slack & Co., cautioned business media companies about diving headlong into marketing services. “The grass is not always greener on the other side of the street,” he said. “Our business is good for about 15% margins. It's not as green as it may look.” Slack said business media companies should consider working alongside agencies more often to serve marketers. “We find there's still a huge role for partnership,” he said.
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