2007 Top Innovators: Tad Smith, CEO, Reed Business Information

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Tad Smith Division: Large
Title: CEO
Company: Reed Business Information
Comment: In a relatively short period, Smith formed RBI Interactive and acquired to reduce Reed's exposure to traditional advertising cycles.

For Tad Smith, CEO of Reed Business Information, creating Reed Business Interactive last July was a case of dejà vu all over again.

"It's like a time warp," said Smith, who was initially hired by then-Cahners (Reed's predecessor company) in 2000 as chief Internet officer. The Internet group he initially presided over folded in 2001 shortly after the dot-com crash.

After a stint as president of the company's media division, Smith became CEO in November 2005. Eight months later, he created RB Interactive to leverage Reed's massive online inventory to take advantage of the resurgence of Web advertising after a few lean years.

RB Interactive, which has a staff of 50, including sales and marketing and product development, has made several moves to enhance the company's position with customers who are clamoring for more online ad vehicles. These moves include adopting standard Internet Advertising Bureau ad units; becoming a member of Nielsen@plan, a syndicated research report platform for online media planning; and introducing an online template with a variety of tools, such as blogs, e-newsletters and Zibb, Reed's vertical search engine.

The latest sites to be created using the template include and, with others to follow. Smith said the growth rate online in the first quarter was "astonishing" but would not elaborate.

"Part of creating an innovative organization is putting innovators together, because when they have a critical mass, they start rolling downhill together in positive ways, and it makes it much easier to fuel crackling information on the Internet," he said.

In January, Smith steered Reed's acquisition of, which links prospective buyers to qualified suppliers in more than 134 business product and service categories, ranging from industrial equipment to financial products to marketing.

Smith said the BuyerZone deal is "transformative" for the company's acquisition strategy. "It increases the predictability of our results, and is a good growth business," he said. "But the reality is there are lot of e-businesses and other e-advertising services with high growth, and that's what we're looking for."

Under Smith, Reed has not been just a buyer. Shortly after he took charge, the company sold its New Products division to Advantage Business Media.

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