CBS Interactive sees opportunity in new b-to-b events, research
February 21, 2012 – In a promotion from within, Sally Slarke has been tapped to lead the newly formed CBS Interactive B-to-B Group. The promotion was announced on Feb. 10 along with news that CBS Interactive is combining four of its editorial departments under one umbrella in order to provide users with more comprehensive international and domestic business content. This new group is comprised of CNET Direct, SmartPlanet, TechRepublic and ZDNet. Slarke spoke with ABM about her new position, her vision for the group and what it has to offer the b-to-b audience.
How is CBS Interactive getting further into the b-to-b space?
We’ve actually already in it and have been in b-to-b for some time. We have a really strong brand in both ZDNet amd Tech Republic here in the United States and globally. We have b-to-b in China, France, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom and Australia.
In the direct part of the business, the leads part of the business, we’ve had a very significant and successful operation internationally for the last 10 years. Here in the United States, it has become more significant in the last six years. We just got to a point where we realized we were actually running a global b-to-b business, and we didn’t have a point person or a head of sales and editorial. For us, it is about bringing it all under one umbrella, appointing heads of various areas of expertise to foster collaboration, efficiencies and building out more opportunities to offer our clients global solutions.
How will CBS Interactive serve a b-to-b audience going forward?
We work in b-to-b tech, and it’s a universal language. The companies, clients and suppliers we work with are worldwide companies. They have worldwide programs and direction, so it’s just a natural fit to be able to offer the same global solutions to them. From a sales perspective, one global sales team can inform our clients about key information in every part of the world. Knowing the contacts clients need in certain markets, helping them leverage that, and providing content they can repurpose makes for a much more sophisticated conversation in sales.
I think the real win for us is around editorial. I don’t think there’s another tech media company that is doing what we’re doing in terms of global editorial. We always have 24/7 coverage with Asia, Europe, Australia and the East and West Coasts of America coming online. We’re offering around-the-clock editorial, as we have been, but we just haven’t leveraged that very well across the sites. That’s a massive direction for us and that’s the real win, the editorial piece of it.
The market will get a more cohesive sales experience, great global product and marketing expertise and a kick butt editorial solution
What is the business model? Ad-supported? Paid content? How will you make money?
It’s still early, but we have built successful businesses through ad-supported content and through getting engagement and leads off the site. We will continue down that road. We’d like to expand our portfolio a bit so we’re starting to do events. It would be great to do more events here in the United States, just as we already do in other places in the world. We need to leverage that.
We are particularly interested in research, and we’d like to stretch that out a little bit more. We have a really strong internal research team in the United States, but we do a lot of commercial research outside of Australia and Asia. We’d like to expand on that. Still, the bulk of our revenue is going to come from display advertising and the lead part of the business.
What is your vision for this new b-to-b group?
Collaboration. We have a phenomenally smart and creative team of people. The one thing that stands out for me is for all of the sales, editorial and platform teams to get together and talk, because I think it will be a powerhouse. They are intelligent, and they get things done. It’s all about great collaboration internally, which leads to fabulous customer solutions for the people who are clients and a great editorial product solution for the users coming to our site and reading our content.
By Risa Dixon
Photo Credit: Josh Miller/CNET