B2Me: The Ultimate Tool for Proving Reader Value

By | June 11, 2012

I’ve been reading about American Printer‘s conversion from a traditional B2B magazine to a B2Me magazine—or a B2B magazine built to order. The new format was launched in April 2012.

Based on information subscribers provide about themselves at the time they sign up, the American Printer B2Me magazines are built on the fly to include only the information of relevance to that subscriber. Content is also driven by where the subscriber lives and works.

Magazines include dynamic QR Codes and personalized URLs that not only provide “traditional” ad tracking (if such a thing can be said), but they also drive content selection. Content that readers ignore will appear less and less often (and, the magazine claims, even disappear over time). Articles and ads with which readers do interact will increase the inclusion of that type of content in the future.

While the marketing messages focus on the reader, what was interesting to me is how this approach becomes the ultimate tool for proving value to advertisers. Kind of “pay per click” for magazine advertising. Not exactly like that, of course, but in a broad sense, I think the analogy is a good one.

When you advertise in a magazine, you are paying for all of the eyeballs that receive the magazine, whether they are interested in your specific category of product or not. So, by creating a profile, not only do readers self-select themselves into the advertiser’s category, but as they scan or don’t scan codes (or respond or don’t respond to personalized URLs), they continue to affirm their content choices and increase their value to the advertiser.

For those QR Code naysayers out there, while it’s true that not everyone is scanning QR Codes these days, I would venture to guess that anyone who signs up for a magazine with content dynamically selected at the time of printing is more likely than average to scan QR Codes.

As I wrote in a Digital Nirvana post last week, the theme that came out loud and clear from the Print Solutions 2012 conference was this Blue Ocean strategy of creating a product that, by virtue of its niche, has a very clear value to its specific and highly targeted audience and through its specificity, has vastly reduced competition.

I would venture to say that American Printer’s B2Me strategy is a Blue Ocean strategy. It will be interesting to see how it fares and the extent to which competitors follow suit.

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3 thoughts on “B2Me: The Ultimate Tool for Proving Reader Value

  1. Katherine OBrien

    Hi Holly
    Thank you for your kind words. I was very excited to join Andy and Julie Plata and the OutputLinks’ team. Feedback on our new approach has been tremendous–what a thrill to be on the cutting edge!

  2. Linda McDaniel

    I agree that we are being overloaded with information, and being able to limit a magazine to our own interests seems an improvement. But to do so can sometimes lead us to simply reinforcing our existing beliefs. The biggest inovations come when people mix ideas from disparate disciplines. Learning comes from being exposed to new and different ideas. The magazine would be doing the readers a service if they would include at least one random article in each issue – it could spark an idea and give the user an alternate way to face a challenge.

  3. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    That’s a really interesting point, Linda. I remember this issue being raised when it comes to online search. Relevant results are great, but as we are tracked and personalized, we are also being selected out of receiving other information. If we’re only given the most “relevant” results, according to the browser’s AI, what if those results aren’t really what we are looking for? Of, as you say, what if we may want random information to spark ideas or expose us to things we might never otherwise come across? In some instances, “personalization” also forces us into a narrow box that perhaps isn’t all that healthy in the long run.

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