"If b-to-b media companies were a little more proactive they could boost their digital DNA," Dearth said. "Not everyone is on the same place on the curve, but going forward b-to-b companies need to lock in digital value because buyers are going to want to know what kind of bets [the target company] has made on the digital revolution."
Dearth, former president-COO of Mecklermedia Corp.'s Magazine Group, said b-to-b media companies may have to incur more risk when it comes to acquiring digital media assets.
"There are a lot of little niches onlineâ€”blogs, bulletin boards, Web publicationsâ€”that have about 20,000, 30,000 unique monthly visitors," he said. "That's too narrow to support a magazine but can build value online, particularly if you hit a critical mass within that given vertical."
As an example of this media strategy, Dearth pointed to Penton Media's 2006 acquisitions of niche Web sites HVAC-Talk.com and WeldingWeb.com.
"There may not be little nuggets that exist in every vertical, but I suspect there are," Dearth said.