B-to-b publishers have long relied on directories (or buyer’s guides, depending on company terminology) to produce revenue and establish themselves as a valuable resource to their readers. Now, b-to-b publishers are finding new ways to add value to their directories, even as print is challenged (and often succeeded) by digital, and Google dominates the search market. 

How Media Companies are Repackaging Directory Offerings

Dave Iannone, president and CEO of Go Forward Media (a full-service print and social/integrated media solutions company) identified social media as a way to enrich the typical company profile, along with other resources the Web has to offer. He explains that Go Forward creates the most complete listings for industries as possible; each company is given a simple profile, and if they choose to advertise, Go Forward will create a robust Internet offering.

He said, “I integrate real time social media, the company’s real time Facebook and Twitter presence – not just within their profile, but what’s in their directory. [We] integrate real time product feeds, distributors and vendors. They’re also feeding into Google products, Google information.”

The Push into Content

One of the biggest draws of the digital directory is the ability to bring the user from directory to content, or vice versa.

Eric Kammerzelt, vice president of technology for the digital department with Cygnus, said Cygnus has, “…focused on SEO and integration of the guides with the rest of our content, thus the strategy for bringing all that into a common platform. We want to be able to provide a sectional database structure to associate all content together for a particular topic or company.”

Cygnus aims to show all of the relationships possible with the product by linking articles, videos, photos or white papers that include the product; not just the company’s relationship with the product. Several of Cygnus’s 27 Buyer’s Guides exist both in digital and print.

Penton’s Source ESB, a resource serving the electronics industry’s audience of design engineers, “procurement people in the electronic space” and semi-conductors, is using digital directories as an opportunity to link back to traditional print brands.

Bill Baumann, market leader and group publisher for Penton’s electronics groups, said Source ESB was launched digitally to, “…provide more unique data that couldn’t be provided in print. What we’re providing is a part number search. For a specific part number, who actually has in inventory now, in what quantity, at what price. It really drills down into the buying process.”

Source ESB (part advertising-, part data-based) currently houses billions of part numbers within the site.

Bridging Event to Directory Listing Sale

Anne McMahon, the group director of information marketing services for Aviation Week, said they created MRO Links as a site that focuses on product and service information.

MRO Links also has a small section at the back of print issues of Aviation Weekly’s publications that includes product and service information.

To house more in-depth company information and financial stats about these companies, Aviation Week launched Aviation Intelligence Network, a paid online subscription model.

Connecting events with publications like Aviation Week and Overhaul and Maintenance to MRO Links was “the sweet spot” for Aviation Week. Last year, Aviation Week rolled out their enhanced exhibitor package to create lead generation for their vendors. Vendors can buy a space at the show, or can choose the package, which includes premium location on the show floor, online profile, connection to a lead generation tool and 1/6th product/service ad in MRO Links.

Vendors are also offered the option to increase ad sizes and feature video in Aviation Week’s own video channel and in the company’s profile.

Revenue Gainers

And these directory efforts have not gone without reward. Penton said Source ESB online revenue will more than double from 26 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2011. For Aviation Week, 50 percent of the exhibitors at the U.S. MRO event last year bought enhanced packages, which panned out to 280 exhibitors in total.

Pay-to-Play: How to Use Paid Ads on Social to Amplify Your Brand’s Content
Check out this related session at The Folio: Show, November 1-2 in NYC!

Many social networks are turning to paid posts as their main source of revenue—none more so than Facebook, Instagram and…