A streamlined approach to ad sales is just one of the factors Basney gives strong consideration to before committing to a particular media company or individual trade title. But that's not all.
"I'm expecting from media partners complete integration—TV, print and digital properties—and to put their best collective foot forward," she said. She also analyzes reach, frequency and cost, and has little patience for the same old, same old. "What's out-of-the box and unexpected that publishers can do for us?" she said. "They have to help us extend the brand in ways that we can't do on our own."
For instance, Xerox partnered with Wired earlier this year to offer 5,000 subscribers the opportunity to personalize their covers for the July issue. The printing technology, which was available via Wired.com, was provided by Xerox's iGen3 110 Digital Production Press and PersonalEffect software. The marketing program included a page insert in the April Wired, which in turn directed readers to a Web site sponsored by Xerox promoting the personalized covers.
Subscribers were able to submit a four-inch-by-six-inch photo of their choice through a specially designed tool on Wired.com. Using the Xerox software the photos were then integrated with Wired's cover art.
"This pushes the envelope to a whole other level, involving the publisher, the client and the editorial team," Basney said. "We're always looking for new and different ways to partner with publishing companies."
For business publishers, the days of selling an ad page or getting advertisers to commit to a schedule are quickly being replaced by a hands-on, strategic approach that, marketers insist, is becoming the price of entry for doing business. And for marketers, who are under intense pressure to demonstrate ROI, allegiance to a particular trade publication is a luxury they can no longer afford.
Marketers contacted for this report had a similar refrain on how business information companies can capture a bigger share of their budgets: Provide better data that can demonstrate how, when and where a media brand's readers are consuming information and how well a particular product resonates in a specific medium.
The calculus is crucial, as marketers shift a growing percentage of their ad dollars to online properties and, increasingly, events and conferences.
"If you become a strategic partner, you're in a much better place than selling a la carte," said Connie Weaver, CMO at management and technology consultant BearingPoint. "I'm looking for a marketing partner, as opposed to a media vendor."
An integrated, 360-degree approach is behind BearingPoint's upcoming marketing campaign with IDG Communications' CIO. The program includes several print ads and a white paper on risk compliance and security that will be discussed during two webinars on CIO.com later this year. The webinars will be followed by roundtable discussions in locations that are still to be determined.
"I look at audience, reach and quality of content before I hit the market," Weaver said. "In b-to-b settings, you have people work where they play; so publishers have to take a hard look at audience segmentation."
With marketers' media budgets more fluid than ever, the pressure is on business publishers to create a full suite of products and rely less on traditional fare.
"Everyone is talking about [integrated marketing] because that's what agencies and clients want to hear, but I'd say for about 60% of business publishers `integration' still means slapping a banner ad online along with a print ad," said Chris Philip, chief experience officer at b-to-b ad agency Doremus, whose clients include Hyperion Solutions Corp., ITT Corp. and The Wall Street Journal Asia. "[Publishers] need to look at all of their assets—print, direct mail or partnership opportunities—and that's the kind of stuff in which we're not there yet."
Philip added that for business publishers to be successful in putting together integrated efforts, they need buy-in from top media executives. "Progress has to be made at the highest level," he said. "It's incumbent upon business publishers to help achieve the client's goals, and that's the endgame. But it's not just publishers. Agencies have to make sure they're getting all of the information" needed to roll out and monitor a marketing campaign.
Mike Paradiso, VP-global media director at CA, said that while publishers are getting better at thinking strategically, they have quite a way to go. "Media buying used to be a linear process," he said. "But now there are a lot of different ways to gather your message. Publishers have to present a unified way for advertisers to get in front of their audiences and separate them from competitors."
CA's "The Playbook" campaign, which ran from summer 2006 through early 2007, was integrated with BusinessWeek and businessweek.com. The program featured brief editorial content that included best practices on managing employees, business processes, competition and efficiencies. CA ran branded messaging below the "Playbook" synopsis in print and various online units in the corresponding content online.
"Some get it and are moving quickly, and others are scared to death and reacting to the moment instead of preparing for the future," said Mark Gambill, VP-marketing at CDW Corp., when asked whether publishers are responding effectively to the seismic changes in marketing. "We're trying to be as targeted as possible, and we understand the profiles of readers and the purchasers of IT we want to reach. So conversely, we want to make sure the publisher is doing his or her homework."