Chairman and CEO | Omeda

It’s pretty clear that for many publishers the standard 12-page, four-color advertising schedule won’t be the main revenue producer for our media company clients—not just in ’07, but as a permanent change in the way the industry operates.

The traditional print magazine will probably remain the primary brand-awareness mechanism for some time, but we see more and more interest in delivering information in other forms and through other channels. That will certainly continue—particularly overseas. For sure, other types of media will become a greater part of the mix, both in terms of how editorial content is delivered and how revenue streams are derived.

Recent “revenue adjustments” have forced media companies to review their entire cost structures. We’ve seen too much cost cutting in the audience development area. Some clients who used to have a staff of eight or 10 are now down to one or two people—sometimes, inexperienced people. That’s unfortunate, because— as publishing companies continue to morph into “media” companies—audience development is more crucial to the enterprise than ever.

As time goes by, we hope that management will allocate more resources to audience development. In fact, our leading clients are growing, not shrinking, and in every case we believe this is very much because they continue to employ and utilize a healthy audience development staff.

The main challenge for magazine publishers is to determine their important audience groups, target specific segments and the ways those segments relate to advertiser interests, and then deliver the audience more efficiently to those advertisers. I want to emphasize the need for publishers to integrate the many systems required to properly run an audience development and retention effort into one comprehensive database that provides one view of the customer and can also incorporate a plethora of paid products such as newsletters, Web sites, and shows and events. This should result in not only expanding the brand but also developing additional revenue streams from existing as well as new audience members by integrating their brand into the informational needs of the customer.

As our clients develop into media companies, they add many different audience touch points. We’ve integrated a complete cradle-to-grave system for our clients—all driven off one robust database. They can gather the data on Web forms we host, select, analyze, and segment an audience group using our tools, deploy a communication from our in-house “Omail” system, analyze the results, and overlay that information right back onto the database—all without external “syncing” and all under one roof at Omeda. In many cases this entire cycle can actually be completed in hours.

For media companies, the opportunities for growth lie in presenting information to the audience in the way they want to see it, in the timeframe they want to get it, and in the way they want to receive it. Having a customer-centric database is key to accomplishing that goal. Smart media companies will use their “one-view-of-the-customer” database to create much more efficient communications and richer relationships with their audiences. If they can maintain those relationships, the concept of a media company is not only viable but also actually quite exciting. Our clients are demanding these capabilities and we’re growing dramatically by providing them. Our challenge is to continue to stay ahead of the curve in providing innovative solutions needed by our clients as a result of sea changes in the market place.

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