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Penton Media tech group takes on all-digital model

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When Penton Media's technology group notified its readers that it was planning to cease printing magazines (with one exception) and switch to an all-digital format, a few readers expressed disappointment with the group's decision, said Peg Miller, Penton technology market leader. Media buyers, however, had a different take. “We've heard from more customers overwhelmingly who say, 'Oh my gosh, what took you so long? This is great. We're so excited,' ” Miller said. “They're excited because readers learn in multiple form factors. Some people like to see text; some people like to watch a video; some like to listen to a podcast while they're on the train. We're trying to make our information available in the form factors that people want.” Penton's technology media group officially announced in late February that it will stop printing its magazines, which will become entirely digital brands starting in May. The titles in the technology group, which serves IT professionals, include DevPro, Power IT Pro, SQL Server Pro and Windows IT Pro. System iNEWS ProVIP will remain in print, as a monthly, with an enhanced digital edition. Asked whether there would be any job reductions as a result of the switch to an all-digital format, Miller said that Penton is “aligning resources with changing workloads and will continue to refine the process through the end of the year.” Penton's move follows a similar undertaking at Ziff Davis Enterprise. Before it was acquired by QuinStreet Inc. in February, Ziff Davis Enterprise moved to an all-digital format with its magazines and abandoned print. Miller said that a recent survey of the technology group's audience found that demand for digital media is rapidly accelerating. She said digital edition subscriptions have increased by double digits in the past year, but declined to provide specific numbers. As part of the switch to an all-digital format, Penton plans to upgrade the websites for each of the individual digital brands in the technology media group, which also include MSPmentor, Talkin' Cloud and the VAR Guy. Redesigning the individual websites is part of a larger change planed to accompany the switch to an all-digital format. For example, in April the group is launching a website to help IT decision-makers navigate the processes behind “technology migration,” the process through which a company switches to a different technology. The group also hopes to create new sponsorship opportunities in concert with EyeTraffic Media, an online marketing company that was acquired by Penton last year; develop more customized content for marketers and advertisers; and enhance its e-commerce platform. Miller said the media technology unit is also evaluating new (and paid) apps to debut later this year. “One of the things we're looking at is creating an 'app-etizer' experience, if you will, on our website—meaning, creating applike capabilities, but on the website so that people can experience it from any device, rather than just mobile devices,” she said.
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