UBM TechWeb is proof of how B2B media companies are becoming B2B consultants. In the last few years, the UBM division has dramatically shifted its business to rely heavily on providing marketing services for business and technology professionals.
Marketing as a service now accounts for 60 percent of UBM TechWeb's revenue (including both print and digital services), according to Scott Vaughan
, chief marketing officer of UBM TechWeb. Direct audience revenue ― e.g. research, conferences, training and certification ― makes up the other 40 percent.
Vaughan noted that marketing services include both traditional advertising and custom publishing (e.g. banner ads and sponsored special issues) as well as emerging marketing services
(e.g. creating and maintaing an ongoing website). He added that even delivering a banner ad on a website has become more of a service publishers provide through analytics to the advertiser.
UBM TechWeb's big bet on marketing services has evolved from more traditional custom media, such as hosting a landing page, and now encompasses more design and content development, such as hosting webcasts, Vaughan said. The publisher is focusing on providing more ongoing services while continuing to facilitate one-off campaigns such as whitepapers and landing page development.
Vaughan said more marketers realize that "blast-and-done" projects don't create the rich long-term relationships with customers that a long-term project can. “The last couple of years we’ve really been working on a new model, a new notion that’s been driven a lot from customers who realize they don’t just want a campaign,” he said. “Today what we’re doing is a much more sustaining effort.”
For instance, UBM TechWeb builds websites hosting community and content for a single sponsor. IBM sponsors the website Internet Evolution
, an editorially driven site featuring Internet radio, video, community, commentary, etc.
In another example, a sponsor wanted to partner to create a community. CA Technologies underwrote Smart Enterprise
, a magazine and website serving as a resource and community for technology executives.
Vaughan said UBM fits the content to the client's objective. “In some cases we also create content, and the client uses that content across multiple programs.”
Using content to draw customers
UBM's strategy is based on a larger trend of brands moving to produce content
and connect with an audience — rather than simply pushing products. Though some brands create their own content, others turn to publishers with the expertise to help them. “We understand how to build an audience and develop content and a calendar and a strategy to engage the audience,” Vaughan said.
The philosophy UBM TechWeb tells clients is “lead with what you know versus what you sell,” he said. UBM employs the same strategy in order to attract its own clients; it created CreateYourNextCustomer.com
as a best practices resource for technology marketers. The site also helps UBM gain new marketing clients. Vaughan said UBM can can show marketing clients the site and say: “The same thing we do for ourselves we can do for you.”
The marketing side of UBM TechWeb's business has accelerated by 20 percent or more the last several years, Vaughan said. The sophisticated technology industry had an early appetite for marketing services, but Vaughan said he expects these services to play a bigger role across all B2B sectors. A study
last year by American Business Media, Booz & Company and the Association of National Advertisers found that publishers providing marketing services generate more revenue growth than those who don't.
Publishers have to take time developing and changing their models to incorporate marketing services; UBM didn't transform its business overnight. “It requires a different set of skills, hiring — a different business model,” Vaughan said. “It’s not something you just go, ‘OK, we’re just going to get into that.’”