India B2B Media Summit 2010: Of building communities on the web

Carrying the discussions forward, the afternoon sessions at the India B2B Media Summit 2010 covered issues such as technology landscape, social media, and content evangelists, among others. The Summit concluded with a CEO Roundtable. The Summit was held in Mumbai on February 22.

e4m by Souvik Mitra
Updated: Feb 23, 2010 7:41 AM
India B2B Media Summit 2010: Of building communities on the web

Carrying the discussions forward, the afternoon sessions at the India B2B Media Summit 2010 covered issues such as technology landscape, social media, and content evangelists, among others. The Summit concluded with a CEO Roundtable. The Summit was held in Mumbai on February 22.

The panel on ‘Technology Landscape’ was moderated by Rajesh Lalwani, Founder & Managing Director, Blogworks, while the panellists included Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Indiamart.com; Navneet Taori, Business Head, Pressmart Media Ltd; and Sreekant Khandekar, Editor-in-Chief & Director, Banyan Netfaqs.

Before commencing the discussions, Rajesh Lalwani made a short presentation, where he stressed on the essentiality of communication and gave key insights into the genesis of a community. He commented, “B2B, by way of its inherent nature, stands a chance for better monetisation. in every community, starting with the seed content, the cycle followed a user driven approach. Thus, the key to success is engaging the community in conversation and finding ‘content evangelists’. The cycle is so strong that once established, even if you wish to come in between, you would be thrown out by the community.”

Citing an interesting example, Sreekant Khandekar mentioned that technology products, be it a computer or a mobile handset, was standardised the world over. On the other hand, food items the world over were classic cases of localisation. “Similarly, formats in low frequency medium are determined by local conditions, whereas content like daily news are largely standardised. The online format will be a better proposition in larger B2B verticals such as real estate, travel, hospitality, etc.”

Dinesh Agarwal advocated a better understanding of the target group to create success stories. He noted, “There is a fundamental difference in the audience activity in the two spaces. One generally browses content in a magazine and searches content in digital. However, print media will continue to exist although, in a different way.”

Navneet Taori put forward his views through an interesting presentation. He stated, “In today’s scenario, just being online is not enough for a B2B publication. A proper execution of the same is very essential.” Commenting on the many roles of a B2B publisher, he said, “Change in format is inevitable. However, the question is, are B2B publishers ready for it? Till a few years back, print used to be the core of all B2B properties. The recent times have seen web taking up that position.”

He proposed selling B2B publications on ‘value to client’ and not on ‘ad inventory’, and added that social media had been hugely over-mentioned, but grossly underleveraged.

At this point, Lalwani asked the panel, “How should new content be designed?”

Responding to the question, Khandekar said that it depended strictly on the media. Taori noted, “The true question is not whether to go for print or digital. It is because both the formats are fundamentally different and which one should be chosen depends on proper analysis of the content.”

Dinesh Agarwal commented, “B2B magazines have a high shelf life. Digital media would be able to better monetise it over a longer period of time.”

CEO Roundtable

The CEO Roundtable was moderated by Pradeep Gupta, Chairman & Managing Director, Cybermedia Group. The panelists included Sanjeev Khaira, Managing Director, United Business Media; Pratap Padode, Editor-in-Chief & Managing Director, ASAPP Media; Hoshang Billimoria, CEO, NextGen Publishing Ltd; Christopher Strobel, Managing Director, Strobel Verlag; Alok Brara, Founder & CEO, India Infrastructure; GB Singh, Publisher & Editor, Security Today; and Sandeep Khosla, Head - Business Publications Division, The Indian Express.

Gupta started off by asking the panel whether the print media model was broken, and if yes, how did one fix it. Most of the panelists vehemently disagreed to the proposition. Sanjeev Khaira noted that although there was a faster acceleration in digital media, there was steady growth in print media. He was of the view that the market had still not matured completely for B2B media, but was surely catching up. Agreeing with Khaira, Pratap Padode said, “Print is always the base. Digital and events will only strengthen the brand created by print.”

Responding to Gupta’s question, Hoshang Billimoria said, “I believe there is some balance required. In 2009, UK saw Internet advertisements tipping TV advertisements. But it is not correct to assume that digital media would kill everything.” According to Christopher Strobel, “It is indeed saddening that a clear solution is not present. Readers do not support a complete online media as well.”

Alok Brara, too, strongly disagreed that the print model had broken. He said, “Most of my other products are sold around the print magazine, which is the core of my business. Print is still profitable and only a careful approach is essential for launching a magazine over a website, as the former is a little cost efficient.”

GB Singh maintained, “A conscious effort needs to be made to reach out to the ‘channels’ as well ‘consumers’. The ‘touch and feel’ factor is still loved.” Sandeep Khosla cited the example of ‘Screen’ to state that print had not lost out to digital, but admitted that ‘Screen’ did lose out to television. “There is no clear answer to the question. At the same time, there may be some sectors like IT, which can see a shift to the digital media” he added.

The panel then went into analyse whether B2B media was becoming brand centric and where the new investments are being made. Billimoria said, “There are a lot of conditions that needed to be fulfilled to enter new sectors. While looking to expand, it is best advisable to avoid the herd mentality. Before investing in a new product, one needs to study whether there really is a need for it.”

When Gupta posed the question, “In times of P&L, where exactly is the ‘P’ or profit coming from?”, Alok Brara replied, “The margins are greater in research and conferences. However, all said and done, it is the brand value of print that increases the value of other properties. Khaira also agreed that while exhibitions were the most profitable, it was always print that helped it. Khosla added here, “I would personally stick to the print only as other technologies would not bring comparable revenues.” Strobel, on the other hand, viewed e-book readers as viable technology, which could be adapted.

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