Media companies have significant opportunities to help marketers generate leads through the marketing services they offer, according to a new study by Media Business.
“Leveraging the Power of Marketing Services” found that 62% of marketers consider lead generation to be their most important objective in purchasing marketing services from media companies, followed by customer acquisition (38%), sales (37%) and brand awareness (35%).
The study was based on an online survey of 231 marketing professionals and other executives during June and July of this year. More than half of the respondents (51%) had such titles as director or manager of marketing/products/communications, with such other titles as exec VP, senior VP or VP of marketing, products and communications. The largest verticals represented included technology companies (24%), manufacturing (17%), agencies (11%) and financial services (9%).
Among other key findings of the study: Marketers view audience reach as a key advantage of publisher marketing services, followed by the ability of media companies to segment their data appropriately for better targeting.
“Technology is allowing marketers to measure their investments, and they're making big bets on this,” said Peter Goldstone, CEO of Hanley Wood, whose marketing division offers more than 100 different marketing services products. “Publishers have to lead with our unique selling proposition, our expertise in the market, our databases and our expertise in the sectors that marketers serve.”
According to the study, the key motivator for marketers to align with publishers lies in the unique products and services that media companies bring to the table. These include lead-gen programs, custom content, social media monitoring and reputation management services, and content licensing.
Randall Rozin, global director-brand management and marketing communications at Dow Corning Corp., said much depends on the strength and core competencies of the publishers with which he deals.
“In general we find that publishers can offer a unique view of—and access to—their given target markets,” he said. “We've found marketing services that offer us the ability to repurpose content as sales aids to our target audience and channel partners add a lot of value to our credibility in a market.”
In making the decision to allocate budgets to marketing services, 58% of marketers said they want to take advantage of media companies' reach across important audience segments, according to the study. Other factors that influence marketers include publishers' ability to target and segment subscriber lists.
When marketers were asked what types of publisher products they use in their content marketing efforts, sponsored sites, newsletters, white papers and webcasts all stood out. In addition, some companies are sponsoring publisher videos and live events that are appropriate to their campaigns.
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Enterprise Services division this year rolled out its “Evolve, Compete, Succeed” campaign, targeting international companies needing to update legacy applications. A major component of the campaign was a partnership with the Financial Times that included print ads in the publication's IT-intensive Connected Business. HP also sponsored the CIO Interviews video series, as well as live FT events.
“Because of our objectives—both to create awareness and demand generation—we wanted to have all these touch points and elements in the campaign,” said Natasha Sandoval, marketing campaign manager for HP Enterprise Services EMEA. One purpose of liaising with the Financial Times, she said, was to “accelerate exposure of our content around messages to potential buyers, the IT audience.”
In choosing a video sponsorship, HP tapped one of the more underused marketing services offered by publishers, according to the study. Other such services include content licensing and permissions, custom publishing and podcasts.
Christian Corser, director-sales development at Bloomberg Businessweek, said he's seeing growing awareness about content licensing.
“There is considerable interest out there,” he said. “If we publish a ranking and a company is in the top fifth, for example, it will use that as a scorecard and license it. Also, our ranking of business schools is definitive. We're getting lots of calls from schools wanting to license our rankings in order to promote themselves and recruit students.”
Budgetary woes constitute marketers' biggest challenge in purchasing marketing services. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents cited that as the largest barrier to using publisher services. Battling management indifference (35%), vague ROI metrics (34%) and a general dissatisfaction with media company account executives (24%) were also cited as obstacles.
“I observe many media companies expanding their services, but I'm not confident that all their skill sets translate,” said Mary Rapaport, director-product marketing at audiological products manufacturer GN ReSound. “These companies sometimes seem to be a little bit desperate, looking for a way to show they still have meaning as print declines or as online becomes more competitive.”
Goldstone said: “It's a question of talent. Many media companies have content producers and sales guys, but they don't have client service experts.”
Another barrier to the use of marketing services offered by media companies is marketers' devotion to their own in-house content, the study found. It was generally preferred over content offered by publishers.
“Yes, marketers like their own content, but it's a moot point,” said Brian Kolb, exec VP at Wright's Media. “People don't care what you say about yourself; they like what magazines and other media have to say about you. Nothing ensures pumping your brand like third-party testimonials.”
Kolb said publishers often “give away for free” the kinds of content—company rankings, reviews and thought-leadership comments, for example—that they could monetize through licensing.
“When constructing integrated solutions for customers' objectives, one thing we do hear is, "I didn't know you did that,' ” said Michael Friedenberg, president-CEO of IDG Enterprise. “So it is an awareness issue in some instances—where our customers are not aware of how broadly we have evolved our solutions into the marketing services area.”
Friedenberg said technology marketers are avid users of IDG's marketing services in their efforts to leverage its publications' content and distribution channels, and to tailor specific marketing programs.
“With lead generation, nurturing and data services, the challenge is the plethora of data available [and how to use the information] to help marketers understand how to harness it for their goals,” Friedenberg said. “Continued education on the variety of services—such as video, social, mobile and data services—as well as a proven track record, provides the foundation for expanding campaigns for current and new clients.”