You had to be there ... reflections on Media Makers Meet

It is a terrible mangling of a great Elvis song, but one of the hosts of Media Makers Meet had it right when he said the event had shown the benefits of “a little more conversation and little less presentation”. 

Held in Berlin last week, the event, MX3 for short, had a strict no-slides rule and each speaker, of which I was one, was interviewed rather than making a speech of some kind. 

It was held under Chatham House rules so you really had to be there to get the full experience. However, I am allowed to share a few themes.

1 Growth potential 

The event was focused on the specialist and B2B publishing market which I think has a huge opportunity to grow in a digital world becoming increasingly divided into niches and “verticals”. Indeed, these publications exist to serve people’s passions or to help them be better at their job. Both are things you will pay attention to, long after you tire of increasingly SEO-driven news. 

One speaker said: “These publications have high engagement and low price sensitivity. No wonder they are so interesting to private equity.” Another added that in this sector “the buyer and seller are closer to each other” than in B2C publications and that makes them very attractive and durable.

2 Focus on users

A very encouraging message delivered by many speakers was that B2B publishers understand the value of focusing on user needs. This is how you build long-term relationships and drive value.

I spoke a bit about this when asked about the importance of driving habitual use to build subscriptions. I said the key was not producing a huge volume of content but to make sure that users get real value from every interaction with your brand. Ultimately, that’s what will make them come back again and again.

It was clear that across many different organisations this is becoming a guiding principle.

3 Data data data

Perhaps B2B publishers have come later to recognising the importance of data than their consumer equivalents, but they certainly get it now. There was lots of talk, both on the stage and in roundtable discussions, about how best to utilise first-party data in particular. 

However, there was also a recognition that it takes real care and attention and a long time horizon to get this right. Publishers need to be clear with their audience how an exchange of data works for them and also to make sure that the benefits, through personalisation and customisation, for example, are readily apparent. 

Proprietary business data is also a real area of opportunity. One publisher explained how he bought a publication that was purely editorial based, pivoted to providing pricing data in the field … “and now I can charge what I like because the customer must have access to the data”.

4 Don’t be scared of the big, bad metaverse

While many in the room would admit they were not experts on the metaverse, they would have come away a touch reassured that it was something they could at least begin to understand. 

Key was its being framed in things that are familiar. Like head-up displays on windscreens, advertising in games, preserving vital artefacts and statues, virtual clothes and so on. 

There’s a way to go, but when listening to conversations afterwards I gathered it didn’t seem so scary.

5 Always show leadership

My favourite line from the whole event was “If you are a market leader, you’ve got to lead the market.”

This was fighting talk about continuous innovation. And I think particularly applicable to B2B organisations which often have relatively secure places in their industry’s scene.

Its tenor was that you cannot just sit back in any market and hope that what has always worked will continue to do so. You have to challenge yourself, innovate and find new, and diverse, sources of revenue. 

Some things might not work, you have to accept that. But very few businesses are truly immune to digital disruption and can risk just standing still.

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