Print, Web Make Perfect Couple,Trade Publisher Says

As a leading technology trade publisher, International Data Group is one of the first to know what’s happening across all channels. The Framingham, MA-based company’s publishing portfolio includes PC World, InfoWorld, Macworld, CIO, NetworkWorld and CMO. Among its advertisers are Cisco Systems, Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Here’s what IDG president/CEO Bob Carrigan had to say in a one-on-one with DM News’ Mickey Alam Khan.

Has IDG’s online focus changed in recent months?

We have stepped up our investments in people, content and technologies to ensure that we have the capabilities to produce Web offerings that are best of breed for users and advertisers.

What’s the new direction?

On the personnel side, we have recruited some top Web talent to the company. At the same time, we are doing a lot of training to ensure that all of our employees are up to speed on the latest best practices.

We are focused on leveraging our brands to reach large, qualified audiences online, which means that we need more content to lure these folks in. Most of our sites are full of original content, not simply repurposed print content. And we are leveraging syndication tools such as RSS and community building tools such as blogs to give users choice in how they receive and interact with our sites.

Finally, to be a successful publisher on the Web, you need to make investments in new content management systems, ad serving technologies, registration and lead-generation tools – a host of new technologies to adapt to the demands of users and advertisers in a real-time, dynamic publishing environment.

How many IDG publications have been affected by the change in direction?

There isn’t a pub that hasn’t been affected. Our editors are developing original and breaking stories for the Web. In most cases, they are writing for the Web first, then editing for print. It’s a big change that has been happening for some time now.

How will the change benefit readers, IDG and advertisers?

It’s a win for all involved. Readers will be able to choose how and when they receive information. Advertisers can target the right audiences in very targeted ways. And for IDG, it expands our business and gives us access to broader audiences.

What are IDG’s plans for print?

Print will remain in the media mix for IDG, readers and advertisers. The higher growth areas will be Web, electronic marketing – newsletters, e-mail, Webcasts, video, etc. – but there is still a substantial audience for print.

Our general view is that we will continue to provide information in any form, be it print, online, events, wireless, etc., as long as it is what our customers want, and as long as we can do it profitably. We don’t see any end in sight for print, especially since marketers are asking us more and more for integrated programs that run across print, online and events.

How does IDG plan to address its print legacy costs?

I am not exactly sure what you mean by “print legacy costs.” Print is still a viable business for us. For sure, our new investments in systems for print have Web extensions, such as content management systems, but there are no “legacy” costs per se.

What is the key benefit of online advertising?

Advertising on the Web can be more interactive, and advertisers and IDG can learn a lot more about behavior. And the Web can provide a lot of information on the reader.

Are reading habits changing?

They are driven by readers’ choices and there are many – print and Web media like information sites, blogs, RSS, etc.

What is your biggest challenge?

Figuring out the media mix and adjusting investments accordingly. The Web is where TV was in the ’50s and there’s a lot more to learn. Some of it will be learned through trial and error and listening to readers and advertisers. As a tech media company we are at the forefront of everything electronic since our readers and advertisers are tech savvy. It’s a challenge, but more of an opportunity for us.

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