D&P’s Dearth sees plenty of potential

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There are an ample number of digital assets that could appeal to b-to-b media companies, says Jeffrey Dearth, a partner at media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips. The question is whether the media companies will step up to the plate.

"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 online—blogs, bulletin boards, Web publications—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 and

"There may not be little nuggets that exist in every vertical, but I suspect there are," Dearth said.

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