Thursday, May 31, 2012

B2B media company GIE Media launches a digital-only magazine into the consumer space, A Garden Life

The B2B media industry continues to live in the Dark Ages. Torn apart by the PE firms that moved in to make a killing in the late nineties, the industry has not recovered from the destruction of many of the industry's leading firms.

As a result, the industry has not been in a position to evolve into the new digital platforms as media executives concentration instead on ways to maximize profits and eventually sell out.
Every once in a while, such as with the release of the Macfadden app for Pizza Today, one can sense a glimmer of recognition on the part of B2B publishers, and one hears of a willingness to experiment and prepare for a digital future they know will arrive some day.

One B2B media firm I have personally competed with in the past is GIE Media. The Cleveland, Ohio-based B2B is a leader in several industry segments including landscape, where it publishes the 70K circulation title Lawn & Landscape. (I was once group publisher of a collection of magazines inside the green industry that have now, I'm sad to say, been decimated by the magazine company's ownership.)

Over two years ago, one of the points I tried to make here at TNM was that mobile and tablets present an incredible opportunity for B2B publishers to experiment inside the consumer space. B2Bs, after all, sell to companies that often also target the consumer market. A company that sells to a landscape contractor or architect will also sell to consumers, right? So why not create digital-only products that reach the consumer – but limit the distribution to digital-only to control cost and gather audience.

Well, GIE Media has started to experiment in this area with the launch of A Garden Life, a digital-only magazine aimed at consumers. A Garden Life is a modest effort, but a good one. The title can be found inside Apple's Newsstand, as well as inside Google Play (the old Android Market), and the articles found on the title's website.

The new app is free to download, and like many B2B titles, also offers its issues for free, as well. I would have liked to see GIE Media experiment with a paid model by pricing issues low, such as at $0.99 an issue, but maybe the goal here is simply to build downloads, or to give added exposure to their advertiser, Suntory Collection.

In any case, here is a short look at the new app from GIE Media. Let's hope we start seeing other B2B wake-up to the possibilities, otherwise the industry will need to see the rise of another VerticalNet to push them forward – just as it happened in the nineties with the web.