This Might Be Big: IDG Enters Content Marketing

As one of the few acknowledged leaders and innovators in B2B publishing, IDG seems always to know when to act on industry trends. The publisher of titles like Computerworld and CIO was a pioneer in China and Web-first publishing. Now the company’s IDG Enterprise unit has announced it will dive into content marketing. The significance of this development will depend on its implementation, but it has the potential to set off a huge shift in the way B2B publishers operate.

In a press release last Tuesday, IDG explained that it’s new project, called “Strategic Content Services,” will “support the growing ‘vendor-as-publisher’ model” (publisher-speak for content marketing). Exactly what IDG’s “content development and content optimization services” will consist of is obscured by the typical press release jargon. But it appears that they will be offering a wide range of content strategy consulting, content creation, and software tools.

What makes this meaningful is the fact that IDG is in essence recognizing the irrelevance of its own media vehicles, at least for some of its potential advertisers.  It’s a big step beyond traditional custom publishing, which is nothing new for IDG. In that old model, the publisher is essentially saying to its customers, “You know nothing about publishing. Let us do it for you.”

But now, IDG is saying something very different: “You can do your own publishing. Here’s how.”

I don’t know whether Joe Pulizzi can be given any credit for IDG’s decision, but it mirrors his advice to publishers two years ago to choose “between trying to grow top line revenue within a business model that used to work well, but will be challenging to grow in the future – or – giving in to the new buyer behavior and help teach traditional businesses how to become their own publishers.”

Sometimes initiatives like IDG’s just fizzle out, other times they spark a revolution. It will be interesting to see which way this one goes.