Print media can survive changes: Ziff Davis’s Callahan

NEW YORK – Massive changes in the media industry were the focus of Robert F. Callahan’s keynote address at the 2007 Circulation Management Conference & Expo.

Mr. Callahan, chairman/CEO of Ziff Davis Media Inc., outlined his own company’s transformation from being heavily print-reliant to earning over half its profits through online revenue. He used his company as an example for others who may be struggling to meet the demands of an increasingly Web-savvy and Web-dependent audience.

“Digital media is a revolution,” Mr. Callahan told the gathering of circulation leaders. “The good news for us is that we are really just in the first inning. Terrific opportunities are here for all of us if we pay attention and if we listen to our customers.”

Mr. Callahan emphasized that no matter what form of media one works with, the point of the business is putting together buyers and sellers. A switch to digital media does not lessen the importance of knowing one’s audience.

“Change is going to keep coming in a very fast way,” Mr. Callahan said. “The most important thing is to listen to what your customers are saying. Know what’s going on and stay ahead.”

Mr. Callahan also mentioned the importance of acting quickly and having a dedicated and hard-working Web team. Those who are passionate about their work will get to know their sector very well, helping a publication appeal to its advertisers.

He urged circulation experts to work with the openness of the Internet to grow an audience base. Linking your publication’s Web site to a rival’s may help your competitor but it also benefits you. Anything that drives traffic and gets readers involved will boost audience development.

“You want this back-and-forth with the competition,” Mr. Callahan said. “The Internet is a different deal completely on that front. You all as an industry can survive this revolution and you can thrive in it.”

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