Where’s the Money in Publishing?
Publisher Hanley Wood (www.HanleyWood.com) has been producing magazines for the residential and commercial construction industries for 30 years, including popular titles Builder, Custom Home, and Remodeling. In addition to its print division, Hanley Wood also has marketing, market intelligence, exhibition and e-media divisions. CEO Frank Anton had a background in print publishing when he came to Hanley Wood 25 years ago, and he spoke with contributor John Gartner about the importance of electronic media, where Hanley Wood derives most of its online revenue, how to capture an online audience and the future of the company’s conferences.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating a successful online publishing division?
Frank Anton: We learned that it is a lot harder than you might think. Back in 2000, when many people had great expectations for online commerce, we invested $40 million in the e-media businesses during a 12-month period in 2000 and 2001, and got almost no return. We learned the hard way that you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. We realized that e-media is a real and an important part of our business, but we do not think it will submerge other forms of media. There are still aspects about print that people will prefer.
How has the e-media group contributed to the success of Hanley Wood, and what areas of the business are growing?
Anton: We started publishing content from our magazines online about 10 years ago and now have Web sites for all of our magazines. The e-media division has been growing at between 15 percent and 20 percent per year, and now represents approximately 10 percent of our revenue and 7 percent of earnings. In partnership with IAC/InterActiveCorp., we recently created a job board to connect plumbers and electricians with building contractors, and we expect our contractor referral business to grow to a million-
dollar-per-year business this year.