MediaTec’s Certification Magazine, a 50,000-circulation title targeting IT pros, could only stand idly by as IT jobs evaporated in 2001, along with two-thirds of the magazine’s revenues, during the dot-com crash. However, Web traffic at Certmag.com never faltered, averaging 100,000 unique visitors per month. Norm Kamikow, MediaTec’s president, decided that resources should be diverted to reengineering the Web site, where customer interest seemed strongest. CertScope, a vertical search engine that launched along with the newly designed site in 2005, will contribute to doubling revenue this year. "Vertical search was the catalyst that allowed us to do that," says Kamikow.
While certainly not the magic bullet, CertScope’s vertical search capabilities, which allow users to access targeted content in Certmag.com and from the general Web, provided the sales team with a greatly expanded arsenal of sales tools. "We felt by putting a vertical search engine on our site we could offer something new and unique," says Kamikow. The new Web site was broken up into 14 communities, each with original and vendor-sponsored content, a salary calculator and discussion boards. Customers can buy packages that include exclusive community sponsorships, banner ads and keyword ownership.
Kamikow has also built an affinity network. Vendors can implement a version of the CertScope search engine on their own Web sites, which has helped drive another 200,000 to 300,000 visitors per year back to Certmag.com.
And it has essentially turned the Certification Magazine sales process on its head. CertScope, rather than the magazine itself, is what the reps use to get in the door. "We used to give customers a free banner on the Web site. Now we’ll give them an ad in the magazine," says Kamikow.