Media Strategist: Kevin Arsham

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Kevin Arsham
Title: Associate director of strategy, business-to-business specialist
Company: OMD
Location: New York
Key b-to-b clients: General Electric Co., Visa, Cingular Wireless
Years in the media business: 12
Most unusual media placement in the past 12 months: Billboard in Shanghai for GE Advanced Materials
Top trend: “What I preach is vertical [markets].”

In the past two years, General Electric Co. has made a big splash with its new branding campaign, anchored by the tagline, “Imagination at work.” The ads in this campaign have appeared on television and have gone well beyond GE’s consumer products—lightbulbs and appliances—to promote the company’s dominant b-to-b divisions, including medical systems, energy and aircraft engines.
In addition to this broad media coverage, it has been Kevin Arsham’s job at OMD, where he is associate director of strategy, business-to-business specialist, to spend GE’s approximately $11 million devoted to b-to-b print as efficiently as possible.
In the past year, he has emphasized buys in specific vertical markets, even at the expense of the large, broad business magazines.
One of the highlights of the past year for Arsham was helping to develop a media handbook for GE to help the company in providing more uniformity to its purchase of b-to-b media.
“We’re going after markets like education and health care,” Arsham explained. “They’re buyers of the products [GE has]. It’s about finding a unique target to go to and having the rationale and the confidence that this market, which is not normally advertised to, would be the potential buyer.”
Arsham is a big believer in b-to-b magazines, particularly for GE divisions, such as water technology and security, that haven’t been comparatively big players but are growing. “In each market, there is an exchange of information in the marketplace, and they’re doing it through these magazines: what are the latest trends, who’s doing what; there’s even a little bit of gossip.”
He is particularly partial to trade publishers that are taking steps to prove the efficacy of their publications. He likes audits but is preferential toward trade media companies that provide third-party research about their readership. “I want to see publications going that extra mile to go beyond just the audience statement and the readership studies,” Arsham said.
While he remains a big believer in print, he’s not yet convinced that b-to-b publishers have hit their stride with their Web properties. “I try to get publishers to look at Web sites as product they can give away to make the buy more valuable,” he said.
At the same time, Arsham is intrigued by the potential of digital editions of magazines, enabled by products from Zinio and NXTBook Media. “I like the digitized media where the trade magazine can actually be viewed page by page like the [print] magazine,” he said.

—Sean Callahan

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