B-to-b media must be responsive to integrated needs

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Just a little more than 35 years ago, in Memphis, Tenn., FedEx launched the first flight that would change the way the world did business. In a few short years, FedEx provided the world with an information-driven, reliable, just-in-time transportation business model. FedEx now links more than 220 countries and territories, representing more than 90% of the world's GDP. As the world has changed, so too have the media needs of advertisers. Those needs have changed more in the last decade than in the century earlier. Because of this, the assistance of b-to-b media companies has never been more critical in helping FedEx with the unique challenge of communicating with millions of customers across the globe. Very broadly, with the promise of media agencies evolving to deliver media-agnostic communication planning, there needs to be a complementary shift and evolution on the publisher front. We believe that, for the most part, b-to-b publishers have stayed in step with consumer appetite for content in distributed formats. However, to truly help advertisers take it to the next level, b-to-b publishers need to knock down medium-specific silos. FedEx and other global companies are constantly seeking integrated environments in which to showcase their resources. For FedEx, this is an incredible number of products and services that can include how FedEx simplifies international shipping, allowing a company to go global, or helping a company manage its supply chain to reduce or eliminate warehouse costs. We cannot stress enough that small-business customers are critical to the success of FedEx. These customers in particular value resources that can help them efficiently and effectively start to build or grow their business and compete on a global scale. Consider that small businesses make up 97% of America's exporters and produce 26% of all export value. Exports are currently one of the brighter spots in the U.S. economy. Two of the biggest assets publishers have are desirable audiences and desirable content. Some ways we believe media companies can better meet advertiser needs are: * Collaborate with advertisers to define and truly know the customer beyond simple demographics. With the changing landscape, having this information allows media vehicles to work harder and smarter for the advertiser. * Leverage the full arsenal of resources available to them, and integrate and drive greater utility of all available assets. * Tailor and sell unique, customized solutions that are specific to client needs. There are several elements to this. Media buyers need to work with publishers, especially in b-to-b vertical segments, to grow their opportunities beyond print. Media buyers should be able to represent all media aspects (such as trade shows, conferences, speaking events) in their portfolios, not just the lead one or, as in most cases, the magazine. Also, the digital aspect of the vertical marketplace needs to be evolved to keep up with media consumption. * Ensure the quality of the product. FedEx is a major advertiser and wants to be in the most effective, relevant and appropriate environments. For b-to-b, media agencies need to provide and refine relevant, accessible platforms to market an advertiser's services or products. Media companies need to continue to provide these platforms to help deliver these services or products. Media companies also need to provide consistent measurement of their audiences and should allow agencies flexibility in creating their own metrics. For example, FedEx's media agency of record, OMD, makes it a point to ensure various vendors are open to measurement techniques beyond simple ad awareness studies. We believe publications would be well-served to learn more about the complexities of a company like FedEx. Because of our role in so many diverse businesses, our need to reach decision-makers well beyond core shipping customers means that we have more opportunity to meaningfully connect with a variety of potential customers. Finally, we would like to see publications and sites become more open to allowing companies such as FedEx to become content providers. For FedEx, the end result will be greater awareness among our customers that FedEx is a full-service transportation provider that can handle their shipping needs. We all truly are making history right now, every minute of every day. The game has changed. And it is time for all of us—publishers, agencies and advertisers—to work closely together to help define this new age of media. Steve Pacheco is director-advertising at FedEx Corp. He can be reached at [email protected]
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