Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Staying Ahead of the Curve: A B2B Publisher's 2023 Transition
In 2010 our company, IT World Canada (ITWC), stopped the presses. It's been 12 years, and the transformations have entered their third reiteration. From print publisher to digital media publisher to an AI-driven digital platform, we continue to evolve in every corner of our mid-size enterprise.  


We are not a multi-conglomerate. We don't have millions of dollars to invest. We are under ten million in annual revenues and have only been able to continuously tweak our processes, technology, and service offerings because we became an agile shop. On the one hand, we consider ourselves a publisher with a vibrant news organization. On the other hand, we consider ourselves an AI-driven media platform that would likely fall into the MarTech (marketing technology) ecosystem of today's media businesses alongside other web ops and ad ops platforms.

Times have Changed in the Publishing Game

News will always be vital and represent the democratized voice of industries, governments, and citizens. Opinions that don't sell products will always be sought after when making important buying decisions. ITWC does not sell headlines. ITworldcanada.com, ITBusinesss.ca and Channeldailynews.com is a business-to-business technology-focused news organization, our calling card, that makes money selling marketing services, not headlines with paid subscribers. Our organization prides itself on the validity of our data and compliance rules that yield more accurate scenarios for and for specific customer sets.

We package up information based on deep data that can help our customers, the technology OEMs and their partners best understand the buyers' journeys—using data and analytics to pinpoint the right opportunities at the right time. We are not talking about marketing qualified leads handed over through telemarketers dialling for readers to download a content asset or a specific community that walks the floor at a publisher's trade show.

Today, we are talking about the art and science of in-depth personas in our targeted audiences that display topic preferences, article engagement, and downloadable content assets married with third-party information from the wider web. In combining first and third-party data as a trusted media platform, ITWC can create a map and journey of intent from start to finish through its AI-enabled platform.

Such a reality has been the most revolutionized transformation in the past 12 years. Step by step, we have experimented and often failed to find the source of our power and meaning in today's B2B media mix. From minimal viable products, responsive design, and an openness to change, we are now simply ITWC offering value in a crowded space of proving ROI in media and marketing investments that demonstrate conversion.

I am expressing more of a tale of how to make profits and stay relevant with the content that matters to your chosen audience. The worldwide web changed the game. Anyone of us can begin a blog and become a publisher. Don't confuse this with publishing amidst the business of advertising.

As I write this blog, I am witnessing the fourth reiteration of data and technology, the new gold for all industries. Publishing sustainability is not plausible if most things remain manual. Automation quickly allows polished editors to amass specific stories daily; data tracking enables better content decisions based on your personas. AI-enabled categories and word usage for your audience take a small publisher to the heightened realms of a multi-million-dollar operation that once required a hundred production personnel.

Publishing is not a profession for laggards. Your people must be highly competent, and their leaders need to be early adopters. Legacy systems and people need to be retired to allow new thinking and blood to take publishing to the next level ushering in a new generation of writers, readers, and marketers. I recognize that I won't be here another 12 years from now to remain bleeding edge. Having 30 years in the publishing discourse, I, too, must mentor rather than lead the next significant charge.

About the Author: Fawn Annan
Fawn Annan is the CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of ITWC (IT World Canada), the country’s largest B2B IT digital media house which produces award-winning news channels, accompanied by full video/podcast and content offerings, servicing the technology B2B space. ITWC, has won over 10 COPA (Canadian Online Publishing Awards) and multiple Kenneth Wilson Awards for outstanding journalism, video and podcasts. fannan@itwc.ca
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This is a guest column for the COPA judges so they can share some of their wisdom with the industry. The COPA Judges are the who's who of the publishing industry in Canada.  COPA Judging Panel Link 
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