Rethinking Your Competition
If you never lose an ad sale to your competition—are they your competition? The digital world can reduce or eliminate competitive advantages the largest publications enjoy in print.
My own online niche-technology publication lived in the shadow of the industry's big kahuna for years. Yet we never once lost an ad sale to them. True, all marketing dollars began after their annual trade show was budgeted for; but we never had a head-to-head showdown for online ads.
Then there is a unique online phenomenon for a surprising number of B2B category leaders: ad space is often limited. This provides opportunities for those who still have space to sell. (See: The Cap on your Ad Sales)
The competitor which directly hurt us most was Google. How many non-advertisers among your prospects spend $2-10,000 a month on Search?
There are not many Digi-Keys. They take my prize as the most widespread banner advertising I see on industrial and technology sites. But only a handful of advertisers have so many different ad-sellers competing for their dollars.
Our new competitors fly under the radar&nspb; In talking with publishers lately about the marketing services they offer, the differentiation of advertising value within vertical industries is increasing well defined. Unique programs offers less apples vs. apples conflict. (See sidebar.)
Are there finite budgets we fight over? You bet. That will never change. But we aren't just competing with other publishers anymore. Technology companies offering advertising wizardry are trying to outflank you. Have you ever heard of BlueKai, Netline, RevResponse, Quantcast, AdAgency1, Accelerator and NetShelter? They may not all impact your sales; but I guarantee there are others who are out to eat your lunch.
I'm finding that B2B publishers working together have plenty to gain, not much to lose. There will always be one or two competing publications you'll never work with, on principal if nothing else. That still leaves dozens of others where, for example, mutual traffic building or content sharing is a win for both. If your supply chain website gains 10,000 new readers from one such partnership, do you really care if your new trucking website partner gains 20,000? If you are sharing readers and not losing advertisers, what's the problem?