Carrigan Describes Multimedia Evolution at IDG
IDG Communications president Bob Carrigan advised publishers to experiment now, because "the days of 20 percent and 30 percent growth online won’t last forever," during a lunch presentation sponsored by RMS called "The Roles of Online and Multimedia Content" at the Folio: Publishing Summit this week.
Carrigan said that print brands play an important but changed role in a marketplace that has shrunk from 140,000 ad pages in tech magazines per year to 40,000 in 2006. "As tech publishers we experience this stuff first, and a lot of it may be coming to a theater near you," he said. "Our magazine brands are positioned to thrive, the challenge is not to lose the value of print in the transition."
Print has shrunk from more than 90 percent of IDG’s revenue in the 1990’s to just over 50 percent today, according to Carrigan, while real online revenues have eclipsed print losses. Events, of which IDG did 65 last year, account for 13 percent of revenue.
While each IDG Web site has more unique visitors than IDG’s entire print readership (and less than 10 percent crossover between online and print), the magazines are key to the success of the Web products, including driving search and differentiating publishers from many of the lightweight online aggregator models popping up, according to Carrigan. "Content is important but context is critical," he said. "That’s how we’re different from the aggregators."
Evolving the Multimedia Platform
IDG’s Web revenue model is evolving beyond straight advertising. The IDG Web sites are generating 14,000 to 15,000 leads per month. "On some sites, 40 percent of revenue is coming not from advertising but from visitors signing up for things we sell and becoming leads," Carrigan said.
IDG sees potential with online video and currently splits its efforts between inexpensive, guerrilla-style clips, such as editors shooting video from conferences on their phones, to partnerships with CNN to produce and distribute much higher-end efforts. "We’re pushing for more syndication deals," Carrigan says. "As publishers, our Web sites don’t drive that same level of traffic;we need to put it out elsewhere."
Carrigan closed by advising publishing executives to put themselves through an "Internet College" by consuming as much information as possible, from reading blogs to viewing Webinars to talking to experts. "I have 20 different blogs open during the day and I’ll hang out and talk with the developers," he says. "People have asked me, ‘How do you have time for this,’ but how can you afford not to make time for this?"