If you read the New York Times today, you'll see a number of articles that point to massive changes in the way we in the media will generate revenue in the near future. Each of the articles touches on different subjects. But combined they tell a tale that points to a whole new world.
And, as is often the case, I'm worried that B2B media isn't ready.
The first article reports that social-networking powerhouse MySpace "says that after experimenting with technology over the last six months it can (now) tailor ads to the personal information that its 110 million active users leave on their profile pages."
The second article reports that AOL is relocating its corporate headquarters to New York City and combining its advertising sales into an operation run by Curtis G. Viebranz, the former chief executive of Tacoda. Tacoda, the king of behavioral targeting, was purchased by AOL earlier this year.
So think about this for a minute: two of the largest players on the Web are throwing their weight behind technology that delivers advertising that is targeted to an individual, rather than to a demographic. MySpace will deliver ads based on what a user tells the company about himself. AOL, using behavioral targeting, will deliver ads based on how a user acts online.
In B2B, we have long touted that our products --either on the Web or in print -- can target ads to a specialized and engaged audience. But it would seem to me that our traditional ad recipe -- the same ad to everyone in an industry -- cannot compete against technology that delivers unique ads to each reader.
Consider, for example, the power of delivering an ad about business-finance software to the CFO, while delivering an ad about storage facilities to the folks in the logistics department.
And consider, for a moment, that the new technologies that AOL and MySpace are adopting mean that those specific ads can be delivered to those specific B2B readers in places other than B2B products.
Soon, very soon, that CFO will be seeing business-finance software ads even when he's reading about sports on some mainstream Web site.
There is, of course, also an opportunity here for online B2B publications. Opening up our readership to these targeted ads would prove attractive to marketers. There's no reason why an advertiser wouldn't want to show an individually targeted ad to the reader of a B2B publication. If one of our readers is in the market for a new car, or is obsessed with video games, or is shopping for a new suit, we should be willing to serve him an appropriate ad even on the pages of Avionics Engineer Monthly.
There are two other articles in today's Times that also point toward this new future. I'll link to them here without further comment.
First, Google has announced plans to offer ads tailored for mobile phones.
Second, the Times has announced it is pulling down the pay wall on its Web site.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters, business media, advertising