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Cygnus expands digital initiatives

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Cygnus Business Media recently made two prominent personnel moves. It eliminated the president position and placed Mike Martin, formerly the president, as the head of the company's public safety and security group, which includes Firehouse.com and Officer.com. Cygnus also recently named Eric Kammerzelt as VP-technology for the entire company. Both men discussed some of Cygnus' online initiatives with Digital Directions.  

Digital Directions: What percentage of this public safety unit's revenue is derived from digital sources?

Martin: The percentage varies by market, but it's pushing 25% of total publishing (print and online) revenue for our portals. I did not roll events revenue into that equation. Online advertising, e-blasts, e-newsletter sponsorships are the primary revenue generators. Web seminar revenue is less predominant in this market group.

DD: What is the biggest digital initiative you're pursuing at Cygnus?     

Martin: Our biggest initiative for digital revenue opportunities is more of a long-term proposition for us. We are working to aggregate all of our audience information, develop more data and demographics on the audiences, and then develop different audience segments, or micro-segments, based on key traits, job responsibilities and roles, decision-making capability and so forth. We'll continue to refine the content that these subset audience groups need, want and value. That, in turn, will provide additional revenue capability. 

DD: What sort of technology platforms are you using in your group?   

Martin: We have a couple of platforms that we're using, with Drupal most recently selected for Firehouse.com. We have developed our own CMS, however, and are starting to launch sites using that system. It provides us with a lot of flexibility in accessing content and delivering it to various platforms.

DD: The new CMS system was originally rolled out on your buyer's guides and will be now moved to your websites. How is this progressing?   

Kammerzelt: For the buyer's guides, the technology is open-sourced. It's something that we did build in-house. It's a CMS system. We found that we needed a solution that would bridge our print workflow and our online workflow. We felt we could have a competitive advantage if we bring those two workflows together. All of our websites will be placed on this new platform this year. We currently have roughly 30 buyer's guides running on the platform. One of the sites is getting about 70% of its traffic from the buyer's guide. The buyer's guides are providing 30% to 70% of the traffic to other sites at Cygnus. The search engine optimization is built into the platform.   

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