The 10 business media websites profiled here this year stand out within the categories Media Business has chosen, but the competition was tougher than it has ever been in the four years of this annual special report. In almost every category, one or more additional websites were very close contenders. SEE THE ROUNDUP
The 60 nominees submitted to Media Business as potential Great Media Websites reflect the state of electronic media in the business media world today—and it's an incredibly positive picture. In spite of the long recession and slow recovery, most business media companies are seriously investing in the future, which is, without doubt, digital.
Contrary to reports that traditional media are destined for extinction in a digital media world, business publishers continue to crack the code for making money online. Even without counting website launches that one would expect to bring in new revenue, almost 20% of the remaining nominations referenced successful new advertising products and opportunities.
For example, the three sites nomi-nated by Advantage Business Media—ECNmag.com, PharmPro.com and RDmag.com—have added new cost-per-lead advertising opportunities. SupplyFrame.com (SupplyFrame Media) totally changed its advertising model to what Jeff Curie, VP-marketing, described as “dry as bone, without pretty graphics or flashy animations that performs exceptionally well for our advertisers.”
As they see signs that digital media advertising is becoming a solid, sustainable business, business media companies are investing in their websites.
More than one-third of the nominated websites were refreshed, redesigned or relaunched in 2009 or 2010. In addition to the site recognized in the relaunch category, Greener World Media's Greenbiz.com, other recent relaunches included 1105 Media's THE Journal (thejournal.com) and WindowsITPro.com; the American Bar Association's ABAJournal.com; IDG Communications' CIO.com; and M2Media 360's Specialty-Coffee.com.
In addition to Focus.com, recognized in the launch category, nine other websites were submitted as launches, including Canon Communications' www.mddionline.com (for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry), Jobson Medical Information's SightNation.com social networking community, Junta42's ContentMarket- ingInstitute.com, and Northstar Travel Media's OfficialCruiseGuide.com. Other sites were launched as sub-brands, including IDG Computerworld extensions IT Health Care, IT Finance and IT Government, and Ziff Davis Enterprise's labs.eweek.com, an offshoot of eweek.com.
The business media evolution from print to digital is also clearly reflected in the fact that half the sites profiled in this feature were born on the Internet, never having had print counterparts. These include Lawnsite.com from Moose River Media and Light Reading from United Business Media's TechWeb—two companies with strong print portfolios—as well as Focus Inc.'s Focus.com, Greener World Media's Greenbiz.com and FireRescue1.com from the Praetorian Group, all of which come from companies that have never published print magazines.
The fact that one in six of the Great Sites nominees made recent investments in video platforms, equipment and people—often by making video production a new responsibility for editors—indicates that business publishers are optimistic about the economy. That's because the business media's video investment has historically matched the economy in upward or downward motion.
Finally, editors are learning how to leverage the power of social networks, particularly Facebook and Twitter, not only to engage audiences but also to drive traffic to their websites. The Financial Times, for example, now has more than 20,000 fans on Facebook and 150,000 Twitter followers; FireRescue1 boasts more than 67,000 Facebook fans.
To further take advantage of conversations and connections their staffs are facilitating on the Facebook and Twitter platforms, several nominated sites have Twitter feeds or Facebook modules on their own websites, including 1105's ohsonline.com (Occupational Health & Safety), CIO.com, Jobson's VisionMonday.com and UBM's EE Times Group.