This may be the worst idea I have ever seen in B2B publishing.
Take a look at DVM, an Advanstar publication that covers veterinary science. Follow the links to the news page.
Look at any story. Pick this one, for example, and open it. You'll find a rewritten press release about the 90th anniversary of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Now imagine that you had a friend who graduated from that school. And imagine that you wanted to send him this story to let him know about the anniversary.
Click on the little blue box at the top of the story and you'll get a pop-up message that tells you that sending that story to your friend will cost you $20.
Just think about that for a second. DVM is telling its readers that it will charge them for the right to do word-of-mouth marketing on DVM's behalf. DVM wants its customers to pay every time they try and get someone to check out DVM.
Now I'd find this idea laughable under any circumstances. But DVM goes beyond the absurd. It's trying to collect these charges for press releases that are available in dozens of other places and that DVM doesn't hide behind a password-protection wall.
Given how unlikely it is that people are silly enough to pay such fees, I can't imagine that DVM actually generates any revenue from this. But I'm quite sure that the damage to customer relations as well as the loss of free marketing is sizable.
I've seen similar schemes elsewhere in B2B. And I'm left speechless by them.
I'd love to know what these folks are thinking. And for the low, low price of $20, they can post a comment and tell me.
ADDENDUM: 3/24/05. About a day or so after this post was published, DVM changed its system. Read the comments to this post for more details.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters, business media