IDG CMO: Tech Marketers Want Performance and Trust From Media Partners

Q&A With Josh London On How The B-to-B Media Business Has Changed

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IDG Communications, a subsidiary of International Data Group, hired Josh London in March as its first-ever chief marketing officer, charged with leading corporate worldwide marketing for the tech media company.

Josh London
Josh London

Mr. London was previously founder and managing partner of Salt Island Ventures, a marketing and management consultancy. Before that, he served as VP-marketing and chief operating officer at SX2 Media Labs, publisher of Computer Shopper, which was acquired by Ziff Davis and Great Hill Partners in 2012.

He also had stints at CNET Networks and industrial publisher ThomasNet.

In the following interview, Mr. London talks about how the b-to-b media business is changing and what tech marketers are looking for in their media partners.

Advertising Age: Why did IDG hire a CMO?

Mr. London: We're the world's largest technology media company, and we've been around for 50 years. Historically, over that time, we have been very decentralized. So our product-level brands have done the talking. At this time, as marketers change their focus to buy audiences as well as brands, we realized that we have a larger global story to tell about IDG as a whole and one that really resonates with the marketplace.

We are reinventing the definition of a modern media company. So my job is really to help elevate the IDG brand to ensure that our capabilities and our innovations are understood in the marketplace. We are looking to tell our story in a consistent way on a global basis, and move from a house of brands to a branded house.

Ad Age: How will you tell the IDG story?

Mr. London: We have done a lot of research to understand how we think about the company and how our customers and prospects think about the company. Many people have entered this house of brands through a product-level door rather than an IDG door. We are going to create a global brand architecture to project clarity to the marketplace, and then we are going to launch integrated communications, events, research, advertising, social and creative execution in service of that to really live up to that brand promise.

Ad Age: What's the timing on the launch?

Mr. London: It has begun now, and some of it is rolling out over the next year.

Ad Age: Are you doing any advertising around this?

Mr. London: We haven't done any advertising yet, but we're looking at doing that in calendar 2016.

Ad Age: How has the b-to-b media industry changed?

Mr. London: Our business has changed a lot, as media as a whole has and as technology media in particular has. In the b-to-b media industry, advertising without immediate ROI -- the tolerance for that is lower than for traditional publishers. We've always been a very results-driven, performance-driven company for our marketers. Data has always been at the core of what we do. And so leveraging that data and more importantly, the intelligence that that data yields, has really been key to our transformation.

Today, the majority of our revenue comes from digital, and we're fortunate that we have multiple complementary revenue streams to support that, and that's really been guiding a lot of that transformation.

Ad Age: What are your other revenue streams?

Mr. London: We have an events business, which does over 700 events a year globally; we have digital display advertising and demand [generation], which make up about 60% of our revenue; we have other marketing services; and print, although primarily that print is international. We have one publication in the U.S. (CIO Magazine) and 178 outside of the U.S.

Ad Age: What are tech marketers looking for in their media partners?

Mr. London: They are looking for performance and trust. Where they see that is through a number of our products that are able to deliver audiences with intent at a global scale. So they look to us when they want to reach technology buyers and business decision-makers that they can't reach other places, and at a scale of executional capabilities they can't reach in other ways.

Ad Age: What are some of the demand generation services you're offering marketers?

Mr. London: We handle it in a number of ways. We do that through white papers, lead generation, and we also have a division called IDG Direct, an owned-and-operated call center that does branded conversations.

We also have a recently announced product called ABM360, our account-based marketing solution. So we're able to talk to customers and really understand not only their need and their role in the purchasing process, but the vendors they're considering and the time frame and the budget they're considering. So when we deliver them to our marketing partners, we are delivering them as sales-qualified leads.

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