The ever-evolving business media landscape is the topic of our latest episode of AudioMag featuring an interview with Bo Sacks, founder of the Precision Media Group and a longtime publisher and consultant. He is delivering the closing keynote at the 2019 Magazines Canada Business Media Leadership Summit, February 5 and 6 in King City, just north of Toronto.
“As our industry progresses the difference between business media and any kind of media is retreating. There’s business media and what we like to refer to as niche media or enthusiasm markets, and they’re all the same,” says Sacks.
“There was a time when we had unique personalities, and we were clearly defined in who we are and what we were and how we approached it—and at the same time everybody had the same business model no matter what you were doing, cookie-cutter, based predominantly on advertising. And now I’d be surprised if there’s any two business models that are the same in any markets.”
Business-to-business publishers, like their business-to-consumer counterparts, are also focusing on membership models as publishers carve increasingly diversified streams of revenue.
“Everybody wants to go to paid subscriptions and memberships. Think about Bloomberg, Vanity Fair, Business Insider, the list is endless,” says Sacks. “It’s less reliance on advertising and more reliance on paid media—subscriptions. And it’s truly one of the only ways to go. We have lost our way and advertisers have lost faith in print. We have scientific proof that the print experience—the haptic experience of print—is a rock solid platform for advertising. But science doesn’t matter. They’ve abandoned us.”
Paid memberships that aim to improve readers’ skills in addition to providing them with the information they need related to their field is a natural fit for many publishers.
“It’s clear that people are willing to pay for the media that they like, or need. In business-to-business we help people thrive in a business environment,” says Sacks. “We give them information to help their careers, motivate them. We do lots of good things. So we have thought on our side and good words. And we want to be paid for them.”
Although publishers have fought hard for ad dollars, Sacks sees plenty of opportunity remaining.
“I think this is the golden age of publishing. I think there’s more opportunity there than ever before,” says Sacks. “We’re not going to compete with Google, Facebook or Amazon. But there’s billions still for us to earn. They’re going to get 75% of ads, no matter what. So we have to pick the 25% that’s left and the billions that that amounts to and figure out a strategy and make that work, to keep our franchises as valuable as they should be and are.”
Bo Sacks will be at the Business Media Leadership Summit February 5 and 6 in King City, just north of Toronto. Click here for more details.
AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been recognized with honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the New York Festivals, Amnesty International and the Gabriel Awards. Visit Tina online at tinapittaway.com to learn more about her work.
AudioMag is made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.
Magazines Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the Canada Council, for this project.