July 1, 2013

B2B goes digital

Business-to-business publishers have embraced the digital world. The trend among them is to put an exact copy of their print version online. The only change most of them make is to add hotlinks to their advertisers’ websites. While digital does not yet make up the majority of the total circulation of most magazines, we need to monitor this trend to see what impact it will have on advertisers.

Target Audience Delivery

I applaud those publishers who are just as concerned about verifying circulation of their digital versions as they are of their print publications. BPA, the traditional B2B circulation auditor, now offers digital circulation audits. Media planners now have access to data on target audience coverage and composition to help them make informed recommendations. Unfortunately, some publishers are still “claiming” circulations that are unrealistic, at best.

Another way that publishers are ensuring target audience delivery is through a subscription-only basis for online viewing. Readers are required to fill out a subscriber profile for the online version with the same requirements as for the print version.

Ad Size Units

When you view an online version on a regular monitor, it’s easy to browse and read. But not so when you’re using a smart phone or a tablet. You might judge a spread to have a lot of impact on a big-screen monitor. But when you have to scroll between the two pages on your handheld device, it loses legibility, visual appeal and message delivery.

Big-Screen Monitor

Big-Screen Monitor


Cell Phone Capture of the Same Ad

Cell Phone Capture of the Same Ad


Consider digital editions of product tabloids. Even on a big-screen monitor, you may miss the details of a large ad just because it’s been shrunk down to accommodate online viewing.

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Digital editions of product tabloids

Unique Applications for the Digital Version

Some online publications are beginning to offer unique applications not available with their print counterparts. Below is an example of a banner that appears across the top of every page of an online pub, providing high impact for the advertiser. Unique online size units can help maximize the ad message and provide a trackable link to the website. Better yet, they may be free or highly discounted when part of the overall media recommendation.

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Unique online size units can help maximize the ad message.

Going Forward

We’ll keep a close watch on the growing acceptance of the digital magazine format by the target audiences. It’s part of our job to keep B2B publishers honest with their digital circulation numbers and to help advertisers get the most out of this trend by adjusting their budgets — and their ads.