DeCarlo meets Ziff challenge

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Eleven months ago, Sara DeCarlo took on "a huge challenge" as VP of database marketing for Ziff Davis Media.

The job: build and manage a centralized customer database, developing profiles on customers and their relationship with Ziff Davis. "We had customer files scattered all over the country that were not integrated," DeCarlo said. "I brought them all together. There were a lot of customers we didn't have anything on that now we know so much about."

With her recent promotion to VP-consumer marketing and database management, DeCarlo will continue to manage the master database. But she'll also oversee subscriber acquisition and retention, single-copy sales, list rentals and audience development for Ziff Davis' nine consumer and enterprise technology publications. Charles Mast, who had been senior VP of consumer marketing, left the company earlier this year.

For DeCarlo, a 22-year publishing industry veteran, the opportunity to head up all circulation efforts is a plum assignment that fuels her passions for circulation, technology and data. Her resume includes circulation positions at Martha Stewart Living, Parenting Magazine, Miller-Freeman and, before Ziff Davis, Technology Investor Magazine.

She joined Ziff Davis in 2000 as director of consumer marketing, and directed audience development efforts for the launch of two titles, Baseline and CIO Insight. After that assignment, she began supervising eWeek's circulation efforts. In May 2004, DeCarlo was promoted to VP-database marketing. Other titles under her direction are: PC Magazine, Sync, ExtremeTech, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World and Official U.S. Playstation Magazine.

The ability to better understand customers, their interests and whether their needs are being met in the marketplace is key to Ziff Davis' renewed focus on product development, DeCarlo said. This year, for example, eWeek will expand efforts to target different customer segments by creating 11 editorial supplements that spotlight technology categories or vertical industries, such as storage, networking, security and government. The editions will be distributed to at least 36,000 and as many as 177,000 subscribers, from three times a year to monthly.

"Our goal is to enhance the reader experience by giving them their own personalized eWeek, while giving the marketing community the ability to gain efficiencies against certain targets," DeCarlo said.

Such a project could not have been undertaken without the very sort of data-crunching that DeCarlo enjoys. For her, there is no such thing as too much information.

"It allows us to be smarter and more efficient," she said. "We can identify those individuals that are most likely to respond to an offer. Instead of doing a campaign where you're going to 100,000 that might be interested in your product, you can tailor it to the 10,000 that are most likely to respond." M

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