IHS Sells Credibility To Manufacturer Sponsorships
A valuable manufacturer opportunity or a conflict of interest?
Trade magazines have long offered promotional whitepapers and webinars to manufacturers.
Now IHS (formerly IMS), who is frequently cited for industry data, is promoting its own rival marketing services.
In this report, we review the sponsorship opportunities IHS is pitching to manufacturers, IHS' response and analysis of IHS' claims there is no conflict of interest created by this practice.
IHS's video surveillance group has been privately promoting their webinar sponsorship opportunities to manufacturers. In an excerpt from their pitch deck, which an IHS prospect sent to us, it is clear these webinars are intended to position the sponsoring company positively, and drive leads/revenue as a result of the sponsorship:
IHS touts EMC as a success story for this approach, as this slide shows:
EMC paid IHS and IHS validated them, joining in on their sales pitch webinar as well, embedded below:
As EMC highlights, not only did IHS accept payment for the webinar, they simultaneously released new 'research' favorable to EMC.
Sponsorship cost is laid out in a document outlining the webinar program. It costs $11,000 for a report that has 2-3 sponsors sharing the report, or $22,000 for an exclusive report. For another $10,000 IHS will produce a "companion report" to go along with the webinar.
Topics Looking For A Sponsor
IHS' website lists topics they want sponsorships for. These are reports or studies that IHS will undertake if they find suitable sponsors. Topics include "Moving to 4K Video Surveillance: What You Need to Know" and "Video Surveillance Industry: Is it Commoditizing?"
Opportunity for Manufacturers
While IHS pricing is a premium to the trade magazines (who typically list ~$10,000 per webinar), IHS certainly has far greater credibility than the trade magazines, especially since they can leverage market size and projection figures to validate the manufacturer. As such, for a manufacturer looking for such validation, hiring IHS for marketing might be a good resource for manufacturers.
We asked IHS for clarification on how these marketing programs are sold and yet not influence coverage of sponsoring companies.
IHS provided a statement saying "The aim of these webinars is to be educational, not sales focused – our webinar team spends a lot of time with the client to ensure the focus is on education." Yet they clearly promote "lead generation" and "branding" as benefits of the webinar, goals usually not associated with an education-driven program.
When asked how they avoid a conflict of interest in selling sponsorships to the same companies they provide analysis on, IHS provided the following response:
We provide market statistics and trend analysis in the reports; we do not assess product/service quality. The market share estimates we publish are available to all clients of our video surveillance intelligence service. They are not unique awards.
We go to great lengths to ensure the market shares are as accurate as possible (including getting audited accounts from private companies). If companies received preferential treatment, we would lose the trusted relationships with our client-base. We have a vested interest in not allowing this to happen.
However, the challenge for market share numbers is rarely are those numbers actually audited and significant judgment / trust is needed to estimate current numbers as well as the even more subjective projections of future growth.
Challenge Maintaining Neutrality But Good Manufacturer Opportunity
IHS says that giving companies preferential treatment would affect their trusted relationships with clients, however selling promotional webinars to companies you claim to provide neutral analysis of is exactly the kind of action that can erode the trust of clients. Working closely with sponsoring companies can easily lead to a biased perception of those companies.
However, this could be a valuable revenue stream for IHS and opportunity for manufacturers who want to leverage IHS' brand.