QuinStreet Buys Ziff Davis Enterprise: Is B2B Just Lead Gen Now?

Although it has not been publicly announced, it appears QuinStreet has purchased Ziff Davis Enterprise, the publishers of eWeek, Baseline, CIO Insight and Channel Insider (not to be confused with Ziff Davis, the publisher of PC Magazine, or ZDNet, which is owned by CBSi).

If you follow the B2B technology publishing landscape, you are almost certainly familiar with the Ziff Davis Enterprise brands. However QuinStreet may be a newer name.

Here is how QuinStreet introduces themselves on their website:

From QuinStreet’s Who We Are page: “Our reputation is built on results after consistently delivering to our clients the right inquires from qualified customer prospects at the right volumes.”

From the What We Do page: “We have become the leader in vertical marketing and media online by delivering qualified clicks and qualified inquiries at low cost and with great scalability.”

In other words, QuinStreet is a lead generation company. They are not a traditional media company with an editorial focus. Very little of their business is based on advertising, whether digital or traditional.

This isn’t QuinStreet’s first B2B technology media acquisition. They purchased IT Business Edge in September 2011 and Internet.com in 2009.

Are “Leads” the Only Thing Left?

According to a post on Google+ from Steven Vaughan-Nichols, nearly all of the editorial staff from Ziff Davis Enterprise have been laid off as part of the acquisition as well.

It appears that Ziff Davis Enterprise has been purchased for their database of nearly 6 million buyers (source). Already suffering, editorial looks to have been crushed.

With the loss of editorial staff and the purchase by QuinStreet, it seems the value in Ziff Davis Enterprise is just the ability to deliver leads.

What About Other Publishers?

Lead generation has been driving growth and innovation at other technology publications, with CMP TechWeb (Information Week), IDG (CIO, ComputerWorld) and TechTarget all investing in improving their lead generation offerings in recent years. As the Media Director working with a number of technology marketers at a B2B agency, Babcock & Jenkins, I have seen this evolution first hand over the last four years.

Today, publishers are integrating lead generation into everything they offer.

  • Online advertising space is packaged as part of a lead generation program for a small premium cost.
  • Custom research is promoted in print advertising in order to drive registrations for access to the full research
  • Sponsored editorial or community sites integrate lead capture opportunities and publishers can guarantee a high volume of registrations on these sites.
  • Sponsorships are built around the development of new research or content and are sold in part on their ability to deliver leads.

Have leads become the primary focus for B2B technology media companies? If so, with lead generation specialists like QuinStreet entering this market, how do the traditional technology publishers need to respond?

Your Turn

How important is editorial and advertising for B2B media companies today? If editorial continues to suffer, will marketers step up to the opportunity and begin providing editorial-style coverage and analysis of their industries? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • Kenny madden

    thanks goodness no.  Traditional database lead gen marketing is the exact way 2 Million IT buyer tell me they do not want to be marketed/sold to. Engaging the savvy tech buyer on their terms and on their turf is still the way to go.

  • Eric: “Have leads become the primary focus for B2B technology media companies?” – definitely “yes,” as far as technology media goes. A “lead,” however, is defined by an exchange of equal value (your content for my contact information). If, as you indicate, QuinStreet’s acquisition is all about the IT buyer audience (and not the Editorial teams), then I’m curious what content they’ll use to continue to entice audience members. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

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