Pulling out all the stops

"BusinessWeek' leverages engagement

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Situated on the cusp between b-to-b and business-to-consumer media is McGraw-Hill Cos.' BusinessWeek. “As a franchise, we reach business leaders. We engage them and interact with them. Then we connect advertisers to this very elusive audience in print and digital,” said Keith Fox, president of BusinessWeek. While Fox declined to break out individual revenue streams, he did say digital was a “significant portion of our revenue,” adding, “I see it being close to 50% of our revenue in the very near future—and that's against a very strong print base.” Like every other media property, BusinessWeek is trying to figure out how to monetize social media and user-generated content. BusinessWeek, which has had blogs for years, recently expanded the concept with BusinessExchange, a new offering launched last fall, that allows businesspeople to read, save and share content related to a given topic. That content can come from anywhere on the Web, not just Users also classify content into topics, although a BusinessExchange moderator must approve the topics before they become active on the site. “BusinessExchange allows us to break the [old media] model. Our content is part of it, but it's not the only part of it,” Fox said. “Trying to be the only source of information is not a winning strategy online. However, I do think being able to aggregate content people care about from you and other sources is the right strategy.” Fox sees BusinessExchange as a way to build a relationship with users that will keep them coming back, which builds traffic that can be monetized through CPM. But he sees other monetization possibilities as well. “Our hypothesis is that by the time people get to the topics they're interested in, they have a very high degree of commitment and engagement with that topic,” Fox said. “Some of the topics are what we would call "microverticals,' because they are very specific, and others are very broad, like energy policy.” In either case, he said, if someone is engaged with a topic, “odds are they'll be interested in ads served in that environment,” which could be monetized with some sort of CPL metric. In Fox's view, the approach goes beyond lead generation. “For example, we could track what articles and white papers people are saving on BusinessExchange to get a sense of what's on the pulse of technology decision-makers,” he said. “That information would be pretty powerful for a business development team because you're seeing real-time behavior of a sophisticated, high-level, elusive audience.” Fox also sees opportunity to get money from users, who, of course, are businesspeople. “We're taking inspiration from our sister company J.D. Power & Associates, who really understands data,” he said. M
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