CHICAGO—Frank Cutitta, general manager of IDG Connect, delivered a keynote presentation here Wednesday at the 2008 Circulation Management Conference and Expo, saying it’s a “new age of user-generated circulation.”

Instead of publishers sending out content to the audience, he said, the audience sends content to each other. For that reason, Cutitta said, publishers need to be “watching the new form of circulation”Facebook and features like “email this” and Digg.

But the focus of Cutitta’s presentation was how he helped form IDG Connect, a centralized database and lead-generation vehicle, within a “painfully decentralized” company.

IDG was not “politically ready” to make the shift, Cutitta said. He and his team had to create a “Switzerland” to balance the brand with the centralized audience and to figure out a revenue-sharing model for shared data.

Now, IDG Connect has 6 million files containing data ranging from basic information like company and title to specific, behavioral metrics of engagement such as sites visited and amount of time spent on certain pages–all of which can be leveraged to sell leads based on individual brands.

“There are major challenges in a decentralized environment,” Cutitta said. “Sharing data like this tends to be on a need to know basis.” Publishers without a centralized database, he said, need to ask themselves whether it is because of company rules or company technology. For IDG, it was company rules, not technology, holding them back.

Cutitta also underlined the need for audience engagement in this new age of circulation. IDG, he said, has created an “engagement intensity index,” ranging from the 101-level to what he calls the “Mensa” level, which helps transform leads from the standard $50 level to the highly detailed leads at the $150 level.

Engagement, said Cutitta, is what elevates a mere name to a more highly prized lead. Yet engagement itself is difficult to measure and identify. “I don’t know engagement until I see it,” he said. “But engagement is measurable is measurable and that ties in with your circulation. I can send out 2 million pieces of mail but if they’re not engaged, I’m losing money.”