Prioritizing the Next Stage of Publishing
Bob Carrigan: The short answer is that we are taking the company in the direction of our customers—both the end users and advertisers. End users want content in a variety of formats and delivery methods including mobile, video, and via physical events, to name a few. It's our job to be there when and where our end users need us. Regarding marketers/advertisers, we try to be just ahead of marketer needs so that we can help show them the way. We were the first to launch a comprehensive suite of social media services via IDG Amplify. When audience-based buying started to become popular in 2008, we launched the IDG TechNetwork, the most comprehensive ad network in the tech media space reaching 450 non-IDG sites. As mobile became important, we launched our Mobile@IDG suite of services.
As Marketing Services became more important, we doubled-down on our Strategic Marketing Services group, which had been around for a decade. I could go on and on, but our business philosophy is to jump aggressively into new areas and not concede any important parts of the market to upstarts or [venture-capital]-backed businesses.
PE: Why did you choose these new directions?
Carrigan: Again, it is about listening to customers. IDG is the leading tech media company, but the definition of category leadership has evolved. It's no longer just about great print brands and great websites. It's about great services for users and advertisers, and this has been the most explosive part of our business.
PE: What do you mean exactly when you say listening to customers? How do you achieve this?
Carrigan: … We have the end-user customers who visit our websites, read our magazines and attend our events. … The methods for watching what users want have evolved. There are lots of analytics, programs and software that we use to monitor Web behavior. We have dashboards that show what users are interested in, what resonates with them, what keeps them on our sites longer. And, of course, we [also] do traditional surveys. One of our businesses is IDG Research, which is separate from IDG, [whose biggest client] is our internal clients. … [Research] is in our DNA; IDG started 47 years ago with IDC, which was our market research company. That started before our first magazine, … Computer World. So our roots are in research, and we are extremely religious about listening to our customers.