AOP Research Shows B2B Sites Are Snapping At The Heels Of Search Engines

From: AOP (The Association of Online Publishers)
Published: Thu Apr 07 2005

New research from the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) has shown that business decision makers regard business-to-business (B2B) websites* as the most useful media source for finding work-related information, well ahead of print business publications, national and regional newspapers, and web portals.

Thirty-nine per cent of the 300 business decision makers interviewed by telephone in January 2005 said that search engines such as Google were the most useful source for finding information relating to their work. However, of the media (destination) sources that were listed as options, B2B websites came out top, stated by 24 per cent of business decision makers as being the most useful source of information, above print business publications (14 per cent), national and regional newspapers (four per cent each), web portals such as MSN, Yahoo and Wanadoo (three per cent), and exhibitions (also three per cent). Other B2B online media products such as email newsletters and alerts were listed by six per cent of business decision makers as being the most useful source.

These findings have prompted AOP to call for greater business advertising spend on B2B websites, as opposed to the more traditional media historically thought to be most appropriate for targeting a business audience.

AOP appointed media research experts Ipsos RSL to carry out the work, which aimed to establish the extent to which the internet has changed the way that decision makers find and use business information, what role B2B websites play in the decision making (especially purchasing) process, and how these users respond to advertising on B2B websites.

The findings showed that 75 per cent of business decision makers use B2B websites to keep up to date with news in their sector, 71 per cent use them as a technical reference source, 62 per cent use them to review products and suppliers and 61 per cent use them to review and analyse competitor activity.

Said Iain Melville, managing director of Reed Business Information and AOP B2B research chair: "The business publishing community and many forward-looking agencies have known for years that B2B websites play a significant role for business decision makers. The AOP research proves the importance of B2B online media as a key source of information and purchasing resource for the business community. It reveals just how valuable these quality content sites are, and the central part they play in the purchase cycle."

Alexandra White, director of AOP said: "With last year’s major AOP research project, ‘Reaching the online elite’ we proved that branded, quality content sites attract the most valuable and elusive consumer audience on the net. This second piece of work has demonstrated that the same is true for the business and professional audience: B2B media websites are now the number one media source for business decision makers. It is our hope that these findings will convince agencies to put B2B websites at the heart of their B2B schedule."


Editor’s notes

Research methodology
Representatives from Emap, Faversham House Group,, IDG Communications, Reed Business Information and VNU Business Publications formed the AOP research group that initiated and developed the project.

*Definition of B2B websites: B2B media websites, carrying: news, editorial features, analysis
Respondents given list of 4-5 websites dependent on sector, e.g.:

AOP commissioned media research experts Ipsos-RSL to carry out the work, which was approached in two stages:

**Stage 1: 12 in-depth telephone interviews with strategic planning agencies examined agency attitudes to B2B online, including perceived strengths and weaknesses of online for B2B advertising.
Interviews completed 1 Nov – 22 Nov 2004
Stage 2: 366 telephone interviews with business decision makers investigated their usage of, and attitudes towards B2B websites, the role these play in influencing purchasing decisions, and response to advertising. Sample taken from Dun and Bradstreet, representative of the UK business industry.
Interviews completed 11 Jan – 28 Jan 2005

About AOP

The UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is an industry body representing online publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of approximately 160 publishing companies from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media. Together they publish around 1,150 products and attract more than five billion page impressions per month.

AOP presents a unified voice to industry and Government, specifically to address issues and concerns relating to all areas of online publishing. AOP publishes original research, hosts forums, conferences and events, covering a range of topics from paid-for-content, subscription models and data protection, through to copyright, content management, new technologies and audience measurement.

Last year AOP produced the highly acclaimed research ‘Reaching the Online Elite’ and every year it delivers the annual member benchmarking study, the ‘AOP Census’.

The AOP autumn Online Publishing Conference & Awards is its annual industry event. It attracts the biggest names in online publishing to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and celebrate outstanding achievement.

Members include Associated New Media, BBC, BSkyB, Capital Radio Group, Channel 4, Dennis Interactive, The Economist Group, Emap,, Future Publishing, Guardian Unlimited, Haymarket Publishing, Independent Digital, IPC Media, ITV Online, News International, Reed Business Information, Telegraph Group Limited, VNU Business Publications and Which?. In addition, PPAi (Periodical Publishers Association Interactive) retains a corporate seat on AOP board: representing the interests of magazine publishers online.


Katy Howell
Immediate future Ltd
0845 408 2031
Company: AOP (The Association of Online Publishers)
Contact Name: Katy Howell
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 0845 408 2031

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