Folio: Summit Speaker: ‘Your Online Channel is Always Evolving’ (posted 3/19)
Many publishers worry they’ve missed the boat or may have started too late. But online is never static and it is never too late to build a revenue-generating online channel, said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Godengo, an IT firm providing online solutions to magazine publishers and advertisers. "We’re really seeing an evolution of magazines becoming multi-channel organizations," he said. "We’re seeing magazines taking that brand you’ve worked so hard to build trust with and leverage the equity of that brand into digital media."
Sullivan spoke Monday at the Folio: Publishing Summit pre-conference about how city and regional magazine owners can take their digital properties to the next level. "We’re not just talking about technology, we’re talking about talent and about how much you are willing to invest in your digital properties versus revenue structure and how that grows over time," he said.
According to research presented by Sullivan, online currently comprises only about 5 percent of total ad spending, but is the fastest growing advertising segment. Why? Because the dollars are following the people, said Sullivan. "We’ve reached broadband saturation point," he said. "Everyone has fast and easy access to the Internet and there’s also ways to track dollars and ROI online which marketers love."
Whether a city or regional magazines Web site is in the beginning stages, simply complementing its magazine, or more advanced, offering original content, video, podcasts and social networking opportunities, it has the unique opportunity of offering online readers something larger sites and search engines cannot – "hyper-local" content, said Sullivan.
City and regionals are able to offer readers and advertisers more targeted content and marketing opportunities. For example, someone searching for restaurants in Chicago on a general search engine will turn up several listings and Web addresses, as well as a few anonymous reviews. But Chicago Magazine, for example, can offer readers more targeted content such as magazine-penned reviews and articles, business listings and targeted advertisements.
"What does this mean for city and regional publishers?" asked Sullivan. "It’s actually pretty exciting. City and regional businesses have an extremely deep reach in the communities you serve. The staff lives there. The magazines are based there. You have local advertisers and unique local content."
Although user-generated blogs can be found on the Web about almost every major city, what’s often missing from them, said Sullivan, is the brand behind the dialogue. "If you have hundreds of people just giving their spin on certain topics or posting pictures from their kids’ soccer games, you’re missing that expert voice that city and regional magazines have," he added. "What you’re missing is the voice guiding the conversation."