I've read a lot in recent days about VNU's $7 billion purchase of IMS Health. And truth be told, very little of what I saw in the business press interested me. The Journal, the AP, Reuters and the Times all seemed focused on the size of the deal, rather than the nature of the deal.
So I was pleased to come across this piece by John Blossom (thanks to PaidContent for pointing me toward it.) John argues that the deal is part of a larger shift by "business publishers and aggregators towards being providers of a broad array of business solutions for specific horizontal and vertical markets instead of mere folios of publications."
Try to ignore the jargon-laden writing (and there is a LOT of it in John's piece.) He's saying something of value here.
Deals such as the VNU purchase are signs of a shift in the B2B media, according to John. Ad-supported publications are in trouble, John says, because trying to control the context in which B2B content is consumed is a loser's game. In other words, although your customers may need your content, they no longer need the paper it's printed on or the Web page where it's posted.
RSS feeds and related technology have freed content from the package. RSS and similar developments have freed your customers from having to buy the car when all they need are the tires.
"This means thinking about your content as objects that can travel from place to place within various solutions and that can adapt its monetization capabilities to its context readily" John says.
There's a similar call for a post-context world in this post by Steve Gillmor (and thanks to Rex, guest blogging at ABM, for pointing me toward it.)
Steve bemoans the "the continuing slide of the trade space" and points out that new voices and new delivery methods are leaving traditional B2B publishers behind.
"...print is dead. And like print, page views are dead," Steve says.
Read both pieces. See if you agree with them, and with me, that there is simply no going back. The B2B audience has tasted power and autonomy. It has no intention of being dictated to ever again.