Digital media disruptions 22 - assessing B2B paywalls, Facebook's algo, and the changing rules of SEO

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 18, 2018
In this edition - what can enterprises learn from B2B subscription paywalls? Plus: data shows how Facebook's algo has shifted away from news and B2B. SEO rules get an update with voice search on the way, and we learn from Netflix's highs and lows.

Yep - it's time for another media disruptions gut check - the enterprisey review. Rules: I pick the impactful stories from my media disruptions channel and give them a hard look from the enterprise angle - along with an advised course of action. This series is NOT geared for the media industry, but for enterprises looking to win audiences, and gain opt-in data.

Lead story - How B2B Media Companies Are Growing Subscription Revenue
by: Toni McQuilken
key excerpt: "Just throwing up paywalls across content that was previously free to access, however, isn’t going to be a long-term strategy for success. Paid content -- content people are actually willing to pay for -- needs to have a clear value proposition."

Paid digital subscriptions are getting traction in news media, sports, and entertainment - but B2B? Publishing Executive looks at three media companies that have forged ahead with B2B paid subscriptions. This from Hanley Wood is a potent reminder of the ol' content bait-and-switch fail:

Rather than simply throw a paywall in front of content the Hanley Wood readers had been getting free for years, they identified the need for more in-depth research and data products readers could use to better manage their businesses.

Enterprisey note: this applies well beyond content, to any previously free software or features that are suddenly put in the "premium" tent. Scoop.It - whose hosting of my media disruptions curation is hanging by a tenuous bait-and-switch thread - pulls free features all the time.

The folks at, our site analytics provider, also have a take on this: 3 questions to ask your data when evaluating a paywall.

Now, for most enterprises, it doesn't make sense to charge for sign-up content. It makes more sense to give it away as a value exchange for opt-in audiences. The big thing is about creating enough value for some of your content that people are willing to give data, money, or both in return. That data isn't just lead gen. It's the power of winning over vertical audiences. As says:

Data can help you understand whether a subscription model might work, and how to get your subscription offer in front of the right people at the right time.

Where have all the Facebook readers gone?
: Megan Radogna

key excerpt: "User experience, controversies surrounding fake news, privacy concerns, or a multitude of other factors could be to blame for a dip in Facebook traffic across categories. But it’s also possible that many users aren’t gone so much as the algorithm change prioritized posts from their friends and family and “meaningful interactions” over content from brands and publishers."

Facebook has shifted its algorithm into relationships over news/media content. If you want into people's Facebook feeds as a B2B, it's time to advertise. crunches numbers which show that Facebook works particularly well for, no surprise - lifestyle brands.

best course of action:

  • No to knee-jerk use of Facebook for marketing because a social media guru says so.
  • Yes to strategic/selective use of Facebook based on brand focus, advertising effectiveness, etc.
  • Active Facebook groups are crushing it in Facebook's algorithms right now. A good option IF you have a cultural/lifestyle angle to your brand.

5 Ways to Carve Out a Top Spot in Google Search Results
Phil Frost
key excerpt:
"Everyone wants their website to be on the first page of Google’s search results pages (SERPs). Since 95% of all clicks are made on the first page, it makes sense. Knowing this doesn’t really help you, though. What you need to know is how to get your site ranked on the first page of Google’s search results for as many keywords as possible that your customers use."

SEO remains relevant for all of our social media obsessions. Buyers still search and research independently - and we all want to be found. Here's a quick overview - though keyword targeting only works if your overall site status carries weight in Google's algorithms (page rank).

best course of action:

  • Page rank is changing; sites are boosted in Google's ranking for many factors including mobile-friendliness, security, and speed (see my piece on SEO for enterprises). But great content people care about - enough to link to from their own (respected) sites - still carries the day.
  • Start researching voice search, and how to get out in front as it gains traction.

Are peer review sites impacting the large enterprise buyer? TrustRadius says yes
yours truly
key excerpt:
"The impact of peer review sites on B2B buyers is no longer debatable. But does that influence extend to the large enterprise? And is it fair to compare the role of analysts to the Kardashians? Those were some of the items I debated with the TrustRadius team."

Peer reviews fall into a broader category of user-generated content we need to think carefully about. This piece gets into how we can support that type of transparency without making the terrible mistake of gaming the system.

Bonus content - a few more stories worth tracking:

For this column, I got an interesting note from a reader about how Netflix has gotten itself into captioning hot water: Queer Eye host backs viewers on Netflix subtitle change.

As enterprises get more aggressive about "intelligent services," they run the risk of running roughshod over human expectations and alienating consumers. Reader Tom Livne, CEO of Verbit, says that's how Netflix has gotten into trouble:

In order to caption its shows, Netflix uses a number of different vendors that manually transcribe its content, making it an extremely tedious, long and difficult process. This, coupled with Netflix's complex captioning guidelines, leave room for errors that sacrifice the accuracy of the transcription.

Livne thinks a tech-based transcription solution is what Netflix needs (no surprise since that's what Verbit does). That may be true, but I think a bigger problem is recognizing the cultural expectations of your end customers. Without that, your content will appear tone deaf and alienate those you want to engage.

A few more quick hits on stories worth noting:

These pieces were picked from my curated channel, enterprise media disruptions. You can also view the entire digital media disruptions article series, including special features.

A grey colored placeholder image