CMP mines database to help launch new pubs

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In a climate that boasts few new publication launches, CMP Media L.L.C., Manhasset, N.Y., is publishing a new magazine in a joint venture with Computer Security Institute (CSI), a San Francisco-based computer security industry trade association.

The bold move is the direct result of CMP’s effort to put database mining at the center of strategic planning and new product development.

The new publication, Secure Enterprise, will target executives concerned with system security issues. It will debut in September, with a second issue in November, followed by a frequency of either nine times a year or monthly in 2004.

CMP’s Network Computing and Network Magazine will coproduce the title with CSI, sharing audiences, content and staff resources. CSI will provide about 5,000 membership names; the new publication’s projected circulation is about 45,000.

"What we saw was a big demand for understanding security technology," said Fritz Nelson, VP-publisher of Network Computing. "The proliferation of technologies and the complexity of technologies have grown so monumentally big that there’s a need to understand how all these technology processes fit into the business."

Insight from marketplace

That insight came from listening to readers and the marketplace, then mining the central database of the publisher’s Business Technology Group (which contains 2.2 million records) to confirm enough advertiser and reader interest to justify the new publication. The Business Technology Group consists of Network Computing, Information Week, Network Magazine and four other publications.

While assessing the information from this database, Nelson and Michael Zane, CMP’s group director of audience development, noticed a sizable number of executives beyond the IT department (such as those in financial auditing and accounting) were involved in developing security systems. That confirmed their belief that there is a significant audience for this new publication, even in a competitive market that already includes three security publications, one of which is published by tech competitor International Data Group.

"We’re able to use [the database] as a resource when new ideas arise from a reader-demand side, and we can go in and determine whether we have an audience for it, quantify it and [forecast] whether they have purchasing power," Zane said.

That’s a new approach for CMP, and it is made possible by the Business Technology Group’s effort over the past 18 months to develop a centralized database.

Creating a master database

All event attendees, e-newsletter subscribers, print publication subscribers and Web seminar audiences across the division are now combined into a master database, Zane said. The group has centralized its database with its fulfillment provider, Hallmark Data Systems Inc.

The theory of using the database as a roadmap was implemented in April when CMP launched Government Enterprise, a quarterly vertical supplement to 47,000 readers that’s polybagged with InformationWeek, Network Computing and Optimize.

"Government Enterprise is a prime example of the database at work," Zane said. "We hit the street with such robust demographics, and it was instantly a competitive entry into that market. And that’s due to the database."

The database strategy also has enabled CMP to move quickly once an opportunity for a new product is identified, Nelson said. The development of Secure Enterprise is an example. "Within a month’s time, we’ve built the edit plan, the sales plan and 90% of the circulation plan, and we’re ready to go," Nelson said.

The focus on using the database, which is now being adopted as a corporate philosophy at CMP, also has elevated the circulation function, adding clout and creativity to the department’s role. Zane said his team has become adept at data mining and learning the market. "We can become strategists instead of just back-office fulfillment experts," he said.

Nelson agreed: "It takes audience development out of the back office."

The Government Enterprise launch, plans for Secure Enterprise and drawing board plans for another new publication focusing on health care will serve as models for efforts by other parts of the company.

"The COO of CMP asked us to create an audience-development task force across the company to share best practices," Nelson said. "It’s a distributed and disperse organization, and the ability to centralize best practices in audience development has become a top priority at the highest levels of our company."

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