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ABM Annual: Understanding audiences can generate paid content, ad revenue

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San Francisco—In keeping with the theme of American Business Media's Customer-driven Future annual conference held here, presenters showed how b-to-b media companies can generate more revenue from both readers and marketers by having a better understanding of their audiences. In his presentation, “Putting Metrics Into Action: Driving Conversions,” Chad Phelps, chief digital officer of enthusiast and b-to-b publisher F+W Media, challenged b-to-b media companies to generate more revenue directly from their audiences. Phelps described F+W's e-commerce strategy, which uses 25 online storefronts to sell content such as archived stories or events, to Web users. He said when he joined F+W in 2008, about 90% of its digital revenue stemmed from advertising. Even though F+W's online advertising continues to grow, Phelps said it only accounts for 16% of current revenue because e-commerce revenue has boomed. The key to driving e-commerce revenue is F+W's email list, Phelps said. The list has 5.5 million names, although only about 2.6 million are engaged. By tracking user behavior and interaction with email, he said F+W can identify, for instance, whether recipients of its graphic designer emails are print designers or interactive designers. F+W can then target specific paid content offers based on a user's behavior. For example, F+W could offer print designers a $299 course on becoming an interactive designer. “We strive for one-to-one marketing,” Phelps said. In his presentation, Amandeep Sandhu, director-audience engagement and analytics at UBM Electronics, compared analyzing a b-to-b audience with the movie “Moneyball,” in which the ultimate purpose of new metrics is to drive better results on the baseball diamond. He said the same is true for b-to-b media, where analyzing audience behavior can yield larger dividends than merely surveying users. “Don't trust what your audience says,” Sandhu said. “Trust what they do.” He offered UBM Electronics' DataSheets.com, an online catalog of electronics components, as an example of how responding to audience feedback and analytics can pay off. By analyzing audience behavior, UBM has repeatedly modified that site, which debuted last year. The result has been a surge in page views, which have increased fourfold since DataSheets.com's debut. Jon Seifert, CEO of Virgo Publishing, said his company uses analytics to identify where a user is in the purchase process by what content they are accessing and how it relates to other content they have consumed. He said understanding the context is critical. “If content is king,” he said, “context is the kingdom.”
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