Pay-to-Play? No Way

The editorial landscape in the IoT, cloud, mobile, wireless and telecom industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. Many publications couldn’t afford to keep a printed version afloat and were forced to move to an online-only model. Others embraced online-only from the beginning and made their mark through online events, webinars and special “councils.” And now another trend is emerging: publications and events are steadily moving from a free (but well-vetted) contributor model to one that’s pay-to-play. And we think that’s a big mistake!

In the industry, pay-to-play models have often been scorned by companies as not worth their price. Those interviews with celebrity spokespeople and top 25 lists can hold some limited value if there are no other options available. But earned media—both from interviews and bylined contributed articles—has always been perceived as high value coverage. But just because they are high value doesn’t mean that a vendor can always afford to pay for placement. That means most of the contributed editorial that was “free” is going to larger companies or companies with large marketing budgets.

Why is that a bad thing? For starters, it means the publications—and therefore the industry—are missing out on hearing the different voices of Thought Leaders, startups, interesting technology innovators and others who can share perspective on what’s new and what’s trending in the industry. Without those voices, the same old stories will be regurgitated. Those lucky enough to capture the attention of the editors who will write an article, terrific! But now that’s often a one-time event.

Events have also been trending this way for a while now, and it’s causing some vendors to spend their money elsewhere because they know that securing a speaking slot is dependent on having a booth, placing an ad or becoming a sponsor of some sort. As such, the big companies are again dominating many conference programs to the exclusion of innovative companies with smaller marketing budgets.

To those publications that are holding the line and continuing to value well-written, informative content—regardless of source—we salute you! To those opting for a pay-to-play model for all contributed content, we challenge you to find different ways to grow revenue without cutting off this vital source of information for your readers—and losing some credibility in the process.

We’ll leave you with these thoughts: It’s hard to be the voice of the industry if much of the industry is not represented within your pages. Many smaller vendors (and CMOs) without budgets today will have budgets in the future and will remember those publications that gave them their early opportunities to show Thought Leadership and tell us about new technologies and services.

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