Summit panelists delved into how media companies are widening their embrace of work flow. As print advertising spending continues to erode, publishers are looking to develop programs that are designed to increase their clients' productivity, reduce their costs and enhance decision-making throughout the enterprise.
“Many of us feel that this a marketplace now where finding out what people do for a living, and adding value to it, has become more important than the means of distribution,” said David Worlock, co-chairman of Outsell Leadership Programs, who moderated a discussion titled “Business Information and Solutions.”
In order to capitalize on work flow, media companies need to find new data points embedded within their content, the panelists said.
“We're strongly focused on taking vast amounts of very high-quality content and making it very actionable for specific things customers need to do,” said Scott Schulman, president of Dow Jones Corporate Markets (which includes Dow Jones Clients Solutions, Factiva and other programs targeting such vertical sectors as risk compliance, procurement and corporate communications). “We've been tailoring our information to fit within specific actions, such as helping managers in the supply chain or prospecting for clients or customers.”
Dow Jones Corporate Markets is 100% subscription-based and licensed, Schulman said. “It's a point of differentiation to a lot of free or low-cost offerings out there that are advertising-dependent.”
Schulman said that in some cases Dow Jones is working with clients to integrate its programs directly into their CRM systems. “We're doing a lot of ethnographic research, which, I'm told, is watching people work and understanding what they're doing,” Schulman said. “It's what they're doing with your information, and what they're doing before they get information from you and what they're doing after they get information from you. And that has led us to create a lot of products that we use today.”
Media investment bankers who attended the conference were relatively upbeat about the level of deal activity this year. “You'll see small-to-medium-size deals in the $50 million range,” said Roland DeSilva, managing partner of DeSilva & Phillips. He predicted a “modest” improvement in the volume of media M&A activity this year, compared with 2010, “until the fourth quarter, when you'll see an explosion [of media deals]” heading into 2012.
DeSilva stressed that after clearing away a decent amount of debt and restructuring their organizations “media companies are much healthier [financially]. Revenue is growing very nicely,” he said. “The dark days are over.”