Inside the B2B Digital Numbers Dilemma

[responsive]PipelineCoating-cover-lg[/responsive]D. B. Hebbard has a bone to pick with B2B publishers and their circulation figures. To look at the official audit numbers, it seems that B2B titles are lagging far behind B2Cs in digital circulation.

“The growth in digital editions among B2Bs has been much slower compared to their consumer counterparts,” Hebbard writes in Talking New Media.

Hebbard blames a lot this on the fact that B2B titles use qualified or controlled circulation for their audit numbers, but the majority of B2B digital titles are poorly designed to gather this kind of information. So a large portion of the circulation is simply not counted in the “official” audit figures.

Part of the issue stems from the fact that many B2Bs are putting out replica PDFs rather than native digital editions, limiting the interactivity functions like qualification. Other problems are found in the vague Apple Newsstand guidelines that scare some publishers off from qualifications.

The situation is aggravated, he says, by digital magazine app versions that fail to do any sort of qualification at all, noting that “all one needs to do is tap the button, say ‘yes’ and it’s yours.”

So people are getting (and reading) the issues, but because they aren’t qualified readers, they don’t count in the audit figures. This skews digital readership numbers in the audit reports.

Meanwhile, B2C publishers have done a much better job of both qualifying and selling their digital titles, by using native digital versions that allow for interactive qualification or sales.

It’s all a bit confusing, and appears to shortchange the popularity of B2B titles that have solid – but unqualified – circulation figures.

Until B2B publishers take qualification seriously, the problem will continue and B2Cs will continue to appear to perform better than their B2B counterparts.