Charlie McCurdy on future of b-to-b: “In five years, investors will flock to winners, shun the losers”
January 24, 2012 -- At ABM’s recent Advanced Leadership Program, Apprise Media CEO Charlie McCurdy gave a presentation on “The Future of B2B Media.” While McCurdy says publishers know the drivers (ROI, qualified lead-gen, marketer independence) and the needs (audience, customer, industry content databases), the media industry needs to shift from a media-centric to customer-centric focus.
“As long as we have a much more comprehensive market view—who the marketers are, what they’re spending, who the buyers are—we will have a viable role in the industry,” said McCurdy. “We need a larger set of data and content that’s organized better than how we’ve traditionally done it as an industry. Companies that don’t do that don’t have a future. In five years, investors will flock to the winners while shunning the losers.”
McCurdy coined a term “eccentricity” as part of his presentation. “It’s hard for us not to be media-centric,” he said. “A lot of smart people out there talk about customer-centric but at the end of the day, they’re still thinking in terms of selling what they produce instead of putting themselves in their customer’s shoes. Marketers are probably not buying banners or sponsorships for the media exposure, they want to drive leads to their websites. If white papers or Google AdSense deliver, they’ll do that instead. The sun doesn’t go around the earth, the earth goes around the sun, and we’re on planet earth.”
McCurdy’s previous company, Canon Communications (which sold to UBM in 2010 for $287 million), overhauled its own database strategy, creating a master file from 74 separate databases from shows, print circulation, e-media and editorial sources. Canon also had to determine who got access to the file, since everyone in the company wanted access. “At Canon, we had a fairly cohesive marketplace, and because of that market focus, we were able to develop those custom profiles,” he said. “We got more deeply involved in tracking content consumption including what articles customers were reading and where they were going on the tradeshow floor. We were able to create unique market position.”
A database overhaul is no longer out of reach in terms of time or expense, according to McCurdy. “A lot of the former subscription houses and list houses are now offering these services,” he said. “Everybody is on this track. The technical capability is there and has advanced so the usual providers can do this, and it’s not all that expensive anymore.”
As part of his presentation at the ABM Advanced Leadership Program, McCurdy led attendees through a forecasting exercise on b-to-b spending and revenue through 2016. In terms of b-to-b marketing share, attendees forecast that live events would grow from 45.1% in 2011 to 48.4% in 2016; digital would grow from 12.8% in 2011 to 18.2% in 2016; and print would fall from 29.2% in 2011 to 11.7% in 2016.
“We will see meaningful decline in print dollar spend and big decline in print share of media spend,” said McCurdy. “I think some of these percentages are a little high, but that’s what the group came up with. Print won’t go to zero, there is still a lot of money in it but it’s not where the growth is. Twelve percent of the market is a lot different than when it was 40 percent.”