Agricultural market information providers have been key innovators for many years in trying to bring buyers and sellers together into highly efficient global markets for agricultural products. But while many information vendors have tried to service these markets well with quotes, news, analysis and weather forecasting oftentimes the upside for these traditionally expensive services have not been big moneymakers in the lean-and-mean farm belts of the U.S. and Canada. At the same time online financial information services such as Yahoo! Finance and other major portals do a great job at covering major stock markets but leave agricultural futures in the lurch for the most part.
I find it interesting, then, that Interactive Data Corporation has teamed with agribusiness giant Cargill to announce a new portal providing free financial futures markets information on the Web. Aimed primarily towards people in agricultural markets who sell commodities to Cargill, The portal is on one level a fairly straightforward presentation of quotes in day and electronic markets for major grains, livestock and energy products along with market news, weather forecasts and market commentary from Cargill market experts. A nice little twist is that the content can be tailored by postal code to enable someone to get a sense of the market conditions for facilities where they can actuall sell their commodities to Cargill (nope, no grain elevators near Westport, CT).
But the other aspect of the portal is that it is captive, purely a Cargill platform that's being used to disseminate basic market information wrapped in marketing messages both obvious and subtle. Why mess with other marketing messages when people an turn to you for data and see nothing but your brand every day? The point is also underscored a little more subtly with the provision of market commentary from Cargill: it's professionally done and insightful, to be sure, but it's Cargill's take on the markets without having to wait for the media to show up and ask for their opinion. This is a great way for people to get rich data from IDC, a trusted source of market information, while enabling Cargill to build relationships with suppliers and build brand value. IDC benefits not only by getting its content into yet another online portal, to be sure, but also increases their experience in using corporate marketing dollars to sponsor their information.
While good news for IDC and Cargill it's yet another example of how B2B marketers are able to create their own relationships with markets through content without having to rely on traditional B2B media outlets. That's not going to stop farmers from pickup up other sources of agricultural news necessarily but it's a good example of how more and more marketing dollars that used to support those publications are paying for more captive audiences who can engage their brands inside their everyday workflow. It's also yet another example of how business information services can partner with corporations with marketing goals in ways previously reserved for trade publishers. B2B media producers need to think more like IDC and consider how they move more aggressively to help marketers build their brands wherever they want them built with their publishing expertise.