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Putman Media launches its first standalone Web site

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On April 24, Putman Media debuted its first standalone Web site, knowpharma.com. While the publisher of Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Plant Services has had companion Web sites for its print products for many years, it had not previously launched a site that was not associated with a publication.

Knowpharma.com is the result of a full 12 months of development, said Mark Harling, Putman VP-business development. Calling knowpharma.com “a form of vertical search,” he described it as a deep, searchable database of vendor-generated content—white papers, case studies and product literature—that reflects the full gamut of resources a pharmaceutical company executive might need to begin to solve a manufacturing problem.

“Let’s say that manufacturing costs are running amok,” he said. “There are many ways to attack that problem. One might be to buy lean manufacturing software; another might be to buy a lot of new equipment.

Harling said knowpharma.com is designed to be “a one-stop shop” that lets pharmaceutical executives define the problem, explore alternatives and select a solution. “The next phase would be head-to-head product comparisons, and we don’t get into that because there are other sites that do that well,” he said.

Vendors do not pay to have their white papers or product information included in the database. “But we have intense advertising and sponsorship interest, and we have developed multiple ways to derive revenues from paid vendor content without creating a negative user experience,” Harling said, declining to give further details.

Harling said he will use a variety of strategies to reach a larger audience than Putman has traditionally attracted to its sites, including aggressive search engine marketing and search engine optimization tactics. Other advertising methods will also be used, Harling said, declining to elaborate.

Already the site attracts sufficient numbers of visitors “to develop strong advertiser interest,” Harling said, estimating that it could serve 100,000 to 200,000 visitors a month “when it gets fully cranked.”

After selling his own company, which published a paid newsletter, in 2001, Harling started looking for a publishing company to buy.

“By 2003 and 2004, I started looking for business opportunities in digital media,” he said. “I studied the Internet and saw that a lot of people were doing exciting things that I thought a traditional b-to-b publishing company could do. So I came with my ideas to [Putman Media CEO] John Cappelletti, who has really backed the new strategy.”

Itasca, Ill.-based Putman expects to record nearly $18 million in sales this year, according to its Web site.

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