BtoB's Media Power 50

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This year's Media Power 50 selections, as always, reflect the array of choices that are available to b-to-b marketers hoping to get their message across to prospects and customers. 

Among the venues in this year's Top 10 are print properties, such as The Wall Street Journal, which occupies the top spot once again, as it has every year since the debut of this special report in 2000; Web sites such as Google and Yahoo!, which have transformed the marketing landscape over the past decade; and TV programs such as ESPN's "SportsCenter," which aggregates a heavily male and business-oriented audience for b-to-b marketers.

On the surface, these media properties seem to have little in common, but a closer look reveals many resemblances in the power of their brands, the uniqueness of their content and their ability to embrace and exploit technological change.

First, all of the properties in the Media Power 50, and particularly in the Top 10, have powerful brands that resonate with both audiences and advertisers. Who can argue with the respect garnered by The Wall Street Journal or with the power of Google, which has become synonymous with its category?

Strong brands are just as critical in vertical markets. "What gets you into the game is the integrity of your print brand," said John French, president-CEO of Prism Media.

Second, the Media Power 50 properties provide strong content in their arena. NBC's "Meet the Press" generates news most Sunday mornings, while attracting b-to-b marketers such as Archer Daniels Midland Co., Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and Microsoft Corp.

But simply having a strong brand and important content are not enough anymore. Truly successful media properties also use technology to make sure the consumer can access the information in any form he or she wants it-including e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds or via BlackBerry.

"What we used to call 'content' is changing to include technological features," said Pat Kenealy, general partner at IDG Ventures Pacific, who pointed out that Yahoo! attracts many users not because of its content but because of technological features that allow for such things as customized news, weather, sports and financial information.

Many media companies have placed a premium on giving the customer the right information at the right time.

Tapping different sources

CMP Media's electronics group, which includes Media Power 50 honoree EE Times , recently conducted an extensive survey of more than 4,000 electronics engineers around the world. The findings confirmed that readers want different kinds of information in different packages.

The survey found electronics engineers sought three basic kinds of information:

"Heads up," which includes news and industry trends analysis.

"Heads down," which includes training and other how-to information.

"Core," which includes component pricing and other ordering information.

For "heads-up" information, readers tend to prefer the trade media. For news and analysis, 61% of respondents said they like trade publications (34%) and trade publication Web sites (27%). For breaking news, 68% of respondents said they prefer e-mail newsletters (42%) or trade publication Web sites (26%).

For "heads-down" information, vendor Web sites, catalogs and search engines are more prominent.

The survey findings are important, because, to some degree, media consumption habits in technologically driven industries tend to presage what will happen in less technology-dependent industries.

The findings indicate that print-despite its occasional obituaries in the media-will be around for some time to come. In the survey, 39% of respondents, the highest score for any media source, said trade publications provide credible information.

The Media Power 50 will continue to have print media, Internet sites and TV programs so long as these properties continue to wield strong brands, provide useful content and allow users to extract information in progressively convenient ways. This will demand constant adjustment and vigilance from media players.

"Just as the Internet changed media in the last decade, mobile devices are going to change it again," Kenealy said.

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