Carrigan credited more than the easy comparison with a recessionary year for IDG's solid performance. He said the company's aggressive forays into marketing services and social media consulting have strengthened the business. He's especially proud of IDG TechNetwork, an online advertising network of 400 third-party technology blogs and websites that the company began assembling more than two years ago.
In its first two fiscal years, 2009 and 2010, IDG TechNetwork's revenue has grown 19-fold, according to the company. “I think it's going to continue to soar,” Carrigan said. “There's a lot of momentum in the vertical ad network space.”
Carrigan said IDG TechNetwork currently produces about 2 billion impressions a month, and he wondered why other legacy print publishers haven't created online advertising networks in their own verticals.
“The only one I know of is Hachette [Filipacchi Media], which bought Jumpstart [Automotive Group, a network of auto sites],” he said. “There aren't many b-to-b publishers pursuing this that I know of in verticals like construction or agriculture.”
Carrigan added: “Most of the companies in a particular category have conceded the vertical ad network space to Internet startup or pure-play [companies],” he said.
IDG said the technology for creating an online ad network is not as intimidating as it might seem, because partnerships with existing networks are available.
“From a technical standpoint, the network runs on DoubleClick's ad serving platform, and we are a partner with Collective Media's AMP platform that integrates with DoubleClick to provide advanced reporting, network management, data integration and publisher management,” said Michael Romoff, general manager of IDG TechNetwork. “The customization and setup of the network was done in collaboration with these partners and provides us the ability to target ads to very specific segments of our audience.”
Another advantage is that b-to-b media companies have credibility with advertisers, and their existing sales forces can open doors in ways that bloggers can only dream of.
“I scratch my head a lot of the time when I look around,” Carrigan said. “It seems like most b-to-b media companies are not focused on their online business. There's still a very heavy focus on print.”