Business publishers pump up Web investments, but in which areas?

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Chicago—How to monetize the Web has been a central discussion topic this week at American Business Media’s annual Top Management Meeting.

Print products have virtually been an afterthought for the 280 business media executives attending the conference, as the Internet gobbles up more and more of their investment dollars. According to Gordon Hughes II, president-CEO of ABM, online revenues for b-to-b publishers are expected to grow between 20% and 22% in 2006, while revenues from print are expected to grow between 4% and 5%, and trade shows, between 6% and 7%. With these projections in mind, BtoB posed the following question to several top b-to-b publishing executives: What is your main focus online heading into 2006?

“It’s threefold. We need to figure out ways to monetize our Web site and provide tips for Web advertising. We have to provide search solutions for our e-build site, which is a database of products; and we will be aggressively looking at Web-based training.” —Peter Goldstone, president, Hanley-Wood Magazines

“Leveraging items across platforms so ‘e’ isn’t a god unto itself—meaning, the e-products either have to utilize or generate content and revenue for the other parts of our organization.” —Alan Douglas, president, Douglas Publications

“Vertical search. We’re in the process of piloting two areas: construction and electronics. It’s a collaboration between Reed U.K. and Reed U.S., but it’s a globally supported program, and we expect it to go into beta in the first quarter of ‘06.” —Jim Casella, vice chairman, Reed Business

“Webcasting is a major focus for us. Among our advertisers, we’re seeing much more interest in customized marketing efforts, and you can get that through Webcasting. We now have a dedicated sales staff for that area.” —William Cobert, president-CEO, Canon Communications

“We expect to develop a lot more Web sites for clients. We’re staffing up so we can provide strategic publishing for strategic clients in the hospital, hospital services and pharmaceutical industries. We just promoted someone in-house to the newly created position of VP-Internet and new media.” —Carroll Dowden, president, Dowden Health Media (Lebhar-Friedman)

“Webinars, and we’re going to look at what we refer to as ‘blended learning’ [seminars, Webinars or private instructions via e-learning]. If we can’t blend it, we don’t do it. We’re also looking at vertical search, either homegrown or going with SearchChannel.” —Dick Ryan, president-CEO, Zweig White Information Services

“E-blast marketing and surveys with our subscribers. The top ways they like to be contacted are direct marketing, individual [trade] publications and e-mail. We have 1.67 million records in our database and 422,000 are opt-ins. Our e-product growth will be 50% next year and probably more than that [in 2007].” —Roscoe Smith III, CEO, Agent Media Corp.

“Content management and search engines across the board. [E-products] will grow 50% or more in 2006.” —Leonard Timm, VP-digital media, Vance Publishing Corp.

“We’re going to be launching a major Webinar initiative [in 2006] and will also be doing more one-to-one events, putting buyers and vendors together in one room.” —Gregory Watt, president-COO, Watt Publishing Co.

 “Continue selling what we’ve already developed—online directories, e-newsletters and Web advertising. There is still a lot of ‘ore to mine’ in what we already offer. As for new initiatives, we intend to focus on, at the top of the list, Webcasts; second would be RSS feeds. How fast we go with either or both depends on what our markets buy.” —Guy Wendler, chairman, Stamats Business Media

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