BtoB goes b-to-b

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Most Popular announced earlier this week that it is expanding beyond its consumer properties, such as Now, is wading into the b-to-b sector.

The New York Times Co.-owned property's Industry & Trade channel debuted with 50 verticals, including aviation, construction and media. If that sounds like VerticalNet, the Internet flameout that served more than 60 b-to-b verticals in the dot-com era, Seth Alpert, managing director for AdMedia Partners, says there's little similarity.

“From's perspective, this is a low-cost attempt to increase their footprint and gain more advertising dollars,” he said. “They're taking their business model and extending it into a different area. They're not going to do anything they don't know how to do.”

“We didn't think about VerticalNet,” said Maya Avrasin,'s b-to-b editor, adding: “I don't think we are overextended in any way.”

“Through extensive research into the various market sectors, we noticed a growing group of professionals who are seeking valuable content and information to help them accomplish their goals that they weren't finding online,” said Michael Daecher,'s senior VP-content and guide operations, in a statement. “In addition to our internal analytics tools, we looked at each industry's competitive landscape, revenue projections and demographics to help narrow our focus.”

The Industry & Trade channel will build on's approach of using how-to and other targeted evergreen content to optimize search traffic. In October, had about 46 million unique users, according to comScore data. is a profitable business for the New York Times Co. In the third quarter of this year, the About Group generated $32.5 million in revenue, up 5.5% from the third quarter in 2009. In the same time frame, About Group's operating profit increased slightly, from $13.7 million to $13.9 million.

At the same time, the Times Co.'s digital revenue is experiencing slower growth. Overall digital revenue at the company is anticipated to increase about 10% in the fourth quarter after posting 14.6% growth in the third.'s move into numerous b-to-b markets at the same time seems counter to the trend in b-to-b media, which has been for media companies to focus on fewer verticals and dive deeper into them.

“I'm not losing sleep about [],” said Frank Anton, CEO of construction industry media company Hanley Wood. “The construction market is big,” he added. “It can support many information sources, including; and, given the state of the market, good information is crucially important to builders, architects and others in the industry.”

Alpert speculated that does not pose a significant menace to existing b-to-b media companies. “I think the only form of threat this poses is that it could end up sucking some ad dollars away—could,” he said.

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