As it reports on its industry, Hanley Wood is building information assets and enabling its audience to participate in their creation. The company is well on its way to becoming a full platform and even more of a market-maker in its industry.

Hanley Wood’s announcement of Construct-DataHub is more than a simple product announcement. It’s the announcement of a new way of thinking about B2B media.

“As single Industry media provider for the construction industry we have a unique opportunity to holistically share content across sites,” says Andrew Reid, President — Digital & Head of Strategic Development.

Lately, while Hanley Wood has continued acting as a media company, publishing stories and reviews on its sites, it has also been collecting structured data in the following categories:

• People
• Projects
• Geography
• Firms
• Products

This is part of a long-standing vision to create real depth of information for each of their sub-verticals, such as architecture, construction, and remodeling.

The core of the system is Hanley Wood’s Metrostudy, which tracks residential construction across the US with 400 field researchers. But now, when their editors create a story about a product, they also add to the database. A product review of a new window contains metadata that can connect it to who’s using it in the field and in what projects, and how a builder used this product in their region. The metadata underlies their content management system and enables them to share information across their systems.

“We’re focusing on data first. Data drives action. The more structure we wrap around our editorial content the better,” Reid said. It has taken them a couple of years to get there, but now there’s now a common data and content infrastructure across their products.

Part of the goal is to encourage their audience to add data to the system. They’ve built a content structure that encourages user-created content. The system enables users to add and update data, lowering the cost of data acquisition. Users have an incentive to promote themselves, their projects, and their products on Hanley Wood’s data products. They can update their own profiles and list their projects, firms highlight the work they do and what products they’re using, and manufacturers upload products. And everything is mapped to geography, which is critical in construction.

Hanley Wood’s vision to create an integrated system is coming together and it provides them with a series of monetization opportunities. These could include paid information (their current Metrostudy model), advertising supported directories, licensed data and content, apps and widgets, and marketing services for their clients.

Meanwhile, it also captures and organizes every interaction with their audience (articles read, booths bought or even visited, and data accessed). They should give them the ability to predict propensity to buy, and what projects are coming up. Hanley Wood currently offers lead generation, full qualification, CRM integration, and administration for their clients.

This gets them closer to becoming true market makers in the markets they serve, linking buyers more directly to sellers.

Why This Matters:
Construct-DataHub may not be a full-fledged platform yet. It only supports limited end user software and workflows in some limited cases, doesn’t yet support third-party software, and its transactional capabilities are still limited. But it’s moving in that direction and appears to be one of the most fully realized transitions of a media company with a data business becoming an integrated information company.

One reason is that Hanley Wood can attack the problem from both as editorial institution with deep knowledge of its vertical market, and as a fully formed information company. It has the editorial skills to build real media products, and understands how to build information products.

The result is that Hanley Wood is in the right position to become market makers in its verticals by getting closer to the actual transactions in the industry.

Lead generation companies are encroaching on media companies’ turf, providing not just names and addresses but also information about expressed and inferred intent. It’s necessary for media companies to offer a wider range of deeper services. Simply offering a list of names and addresses of potentially interested buyers is not enough.

Modern vertical media continue the unique connection with their audiences, with journalists, and editors that their communities have grown to trust and depend on for information. But they have the option of going beyond simply selling advertising and generating leads, or bringing masses of buyers and sellers together in an exhibition hall a few times a year.

They’re positioned to match buyers and sellers more carefully than before, and then to facilitate the transaction by removing the friction of qualifying buyers or filtering products and sellers by focusing the choices on both sides of the buying process.

For Hanley Wood, that process meant becoming an integrated information company — developing a more direct understanding of what their audience is looking to buy, what products are available, and how they’re used.

By Barry Parr, Outsell, Inc, Director, Sr. Analyst