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Audience development executives are being tapped by sales as lead-gen products increase

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In a digital world, consumers can be tracked in seemingly infinite ways: Did they scratch before they bought? Was it their hip or ear? Right or left? One circumstance that has changed the questions media buyers are asking is the introduction of the full brand audit by both BPA Worldwide and the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which shows the full behavior of those who interact with the brand—whether at events, online or anywhere. So when it comes to that wall of data, what are media buyers asking from audience developers these days? “What will be interesting to see is how the metric demands change in the near future, as reporting print and newsstand almost become irrelevant,” said JoAnn Binz, circulation-audience development manager at Quality Circulation Services. “I have a feeling that being able to provide reporting on page views, article views, visitors, clicks and all online activity [is] going to become extremely important,” she said. For some, that time has already arrived. Jeff Kalish, VP-media at media buyer Shepherd Group, said the key metric is measurable return. “The days of awareness building within b-to-b audiences is long gone,” he said. “In our b-to-b print and online plans [which are increasingly digitally based], we execute promotionally driven executions that motivate response and capture data.” That first collection of data is the beginning of an “engagement-based relationship,” Kalish said. Michael Keith Atwood, senior manager-integrated media services at McGraw-Hill Construction, said leads are all advertisers are asking for from his group. “To help our clients accomplish their lead-gen goals, [we have] developed a series of product offerings—from webinars and white papers to lead-generating email blasts, QR [quick response] codes and online directories,” he said. According to David Rowe, VP-media director at media buyer Doremus, the key metrics requested from audience developers of print products are: total circulation, changes from previous audit statements, paid versus controlled, print copies versus digital copies, audience demographics, percent of controlled subscribers requalified in the past year and those who personally requested the publication, and percent of paid subscribers in arrears. “Regrettably, I think media planners use the circulation audit statements far less than they used to,” Rowe said. “This goes hand-in-hand with the diminishing importance of the print medium. When I express concern about certain aspects of a publication's statement, the response is invariably something like, "You are the only one who has asked about that.' This trend has emboldened more trade publishers to do away altogether with their audit statements.” Kalish added that audience developers could help media buyers by having “a better understanding of campaign goals and customizing opportunities to reach their audience, [since] agencies are increasingly compensated by clients based solely, or to a large degree, on performance.” Rowe said developers could have greater standardization of the categories used to report job title/function and type of business/industry, as well as download/open rates for digital copies of magazines and demographic information for website audiences. Because advertisers are looking more deeply into data, Desiree Forsyth, principal of circulation consultancy Density Media, said that publishers and salespeople should contact audience development managers before making sales calls. “We can give the sales staff details about the brand they are going to see that looks at the relationship in a totally new way,” she said, “[like] a report that details how our site ranks for the advertiser's specific and market keywords versus how the advertiser's own site ranks for the same keywords.”
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