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What B2B and AdAge Says about Integrated Marketing; Journalism


Journalists don’t read marketers’ press releases and it appears to me as if marketers don’t read journalists’ press releases either.

The announcement that BtoB magazine is merging with Advertising Age in 2014 would have slipped by if it weren’t for a work colleague who emailed the link to a group distribution today. A quick search shows there’s been very little coverage of the news.

So much for the mantra that nobody watches the media like the media. This time around, nobody was watching the media…and well, maybe that’s part of the problem.

The “Combined Forces” Spin

As I viewed the statement, which reads like a press release positing as an article without a byline, I realized it in fact had a lot in common with a press release as well; right down to duplicate content.

What stood out even more, was the angle, or the spin, which according to Rance Crain, who wears dual hats a president of parent Crain Communications and editor-in-chief of AdAge,

“B2b and consumer marketers are increasingly using similar tools and wrestling with the same challenges, so it just made sense to have a single marketing publication. We think we can do a better job if we coordinate coverage of all marketing under one brand, with one strategy.” (Emphasis is mine; I’ll get to that in a minute).

I’m with him mostly on the similarities; I’m not on the idea that together means better.  Every M&A or consolidation press release has statement similar to the effect of:

“Same small company personality and care for our customers, only now with global power and reach of the international brand acquiring us.”

However, the underlying message that is almost always inherent in any M&A is simply cost cutting.

The Media is Still Shaking Out  

The cost cutting, the consolidation, the settling economics of journalism are not done…not yet.  Folio reported:

“The move comes at a challenging time in the magazine’s advertising market. Ad pages dropped 13 percent for the business, advertising and marketing segment in the first quarter of 2013, while ad revenue fell 20 percent, according to ABM’s most recent BIN report.”

Recall about this time last year, Access Intel, which owns titles like PR News, acquired Penton Media.  Trade publications are seemingly subsidized by the event side of a publication’s business when ad revenues fall, but the economic links are tricky.  In other words, those events thrive because of the useful content the publishers produce and are associated with the brand.

This is what the content marketing is all about and it’s interesting to watch how there are gaps in understanding both among marketers and among editorial playmakers.

B2B marketing is about People-to-People

I’ve long believed that marketers can easily navigate from business-to-business (B2B) marketing into business-to-consumer marketing (B2C), because businesses are made up of (gasp!) people. I don’t however, subscribe to the idea that B2C marketers can gracefully transition into B2B.

Why?  The approach is different. It’s consultative.  The sales cycle is longer.  Things usually cost more.  A junior professional that would otherwise have very little business purchasing power can derail a deal if they are to be a primary user and dislike a product.  Procurement can kill a deal.

So I believe Mr. Crain would be more accurate if he had said both segments use the “same tools and wrestling with similar challenges.”  Subtle perhaps, but audience identification is pretty important in our business.  Mr. Crain is betting the house on it.

The Marketing Integration Trend Continues

Integration is broadening – to date it’s been about functional integration – marketing increasingly looks more like PR and we can’t just be PR pros anymore.

AdAge’s Alexandra Bruell is a case in point since she joined from PRWeek where she once wrote about PR firms acquiring ad agencies – she now writes about ad agencies acquiring PR firms.  Or perhaps PR firms aspiring to be marketing conglomerates.

The integration of is expanding outside of the functional marketing turf wars in the same way Google and Apple have popularized the idea of the consumerization of IT.

* * *

One final thought brings me back to those press releases; nobody’s reading them unless someone is pitching them. And generally, it doesn’t matter what site on which a release is syndicated.

What do you think?

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