Over my career in media, which stretches back to 1987, most of the time I've been involved with print publishing both in the UK at Dennis Publishing and with IDG in the US. However, over the last several years I've focused more on online opportunities, assisting IDG Communications move from being a print centric to a mobile centric organization - my post in February 2007 got a fair amount of coverage thanks to a pick-up by Jeff Jarvis. Today IDG has around 45% of its US revenues coming online and it's been exciting to watch all the developments around search, advertising, lead generation and most importantly the engagement and interactivity of the audiences.
Today IDG focuses not only on developing great content at the brands' sites but also has a major effort syndicating content around the web - ensuring the content reaches audiences that are more and more dispersed and fragmented. Our goal is "user generated circulation" , a term coined by IDG's Frank Cutitta, who runs IDG Connect at the Circulation Management Conference and Expo. While there is still a major focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) the volume of traffic being received from SMO (Social Media Optimization) is nowvery significant. Create great content - but make sure you market it to the correct places and make it easy to be distributed via RSS. Tools such the one from ShareThis should be on virtually every piece of content. Audience development has now pushed out circulation management.
Coupled with our focus on content syndication, IDG has launched the IDG Technology Network - a Vertical Publishing Network for the IT industry. Anchored by IDG's core brands IDG has carefully selected and vetted sites that complement our brands' sites with those that also have a high affinity with the brands' audience. Through the network IDG provides marketers with unparalleled reach to highly quality and active IT buyers. Details on these initiatives can be found at the IDG Knowledge Hub.
During 2008 I've been more and more focused around mobile opportunities trying to understand exactly what the mobile platform means for publishers. In many ways it feels similar to when I arrived in the US in 1993 - the web was in its nascent stage - although a clickable ad appeared in 1993 r - banner ads did not appear until October 1994 when HotWired ran one for AT&T. But, even back then many of us realized that we were witnessing the beginnings of a massive upheaval to our industry and new revenue streams. We just had no clear ideal of how it would develop. If we had, we'd have launched a search engine with paid text ads.
Fifteen years on I feel similarly about the mobile space - while at a nascent stage in many areas - there are already significant revenue streams via SMS and MMS. Now we just have to crack the code on mobile advertising in a way that engages not aggravates and interrupts the mobile user.
If you want some great insights into Mobile Advertising read Mobile Advertising: Supercharge Your Brand in the Exploding Wireless Market by by Chetan Sharma, Joe Herzog and Victor Melfi.
The launch of the iPhone enabled easy navigation of the web via a mobile screen and now with a developer environment coupled with a distribution and payment platform for these mobile applications Apple has redefined the space. 60 million applications have been downloaded since launch ! It has raised the bar high, so I await with interest the responses from Nokia and the other major players.
Going forward, I'm going to be focusing my energies more an more on mobile and in particular what it means for media organizations. As Tomi Ahonen has noted, mobile is the 7th Mass Media - capable of the elements of all previous mass media but also a lot more.
I'll use this blog to highlight interesting trends, people, products, applicatons and services in the mobile environment. To start off I'll provide a link to those sites I have on my iGoogle Mobile Tab - I find it a useful resource so keep abreast of this fast moving environment. It's not comprehensive so please feel free to send details of other interesting sites.
I'm sensing that the moment is coming very soon where all major publishing companies are going to have to take mobile seriously - too may failed to appreciate the upheaval caused by online - mobile is going be even more traumatic as we move from one PC era - that of Personal Computer to another one - that of Personal Communications. It's going to be an exciting journey I how you join me in the conversation.