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TechTarget CEO says worst days are over

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Greg Strakosch, co-founder and CEO of TechTarget, believes the online advertising market has seen its worst days.

“I think Q1 [of 2009] and Q4 [of 2008] were the bottom,” Strakosch said in an interview with BtoB's Media Business. “We had sequential revenue growth in the second quarter—that's a good sign.”

The Needham, Mass.-based information technology media company simultaneously filed quarterly reports for the first and second quarters on Aug. 17 due to a restatement required because of inconsistencies in when revenue was recognized. The filings show that even Internet-focused companies are suffering in the advertising downturn, but not as much as companies focused on print.

TechTarget's first-quarter revenue totaled $18.5 million, down 21% from the same period last year. The second quarter showed similar results, with revenue falling 21% to $21.7 million.

On the surface, those numbers appear similar to the 30% drop that has been seen in b-to-b print advertising revenue throughout this year. But in TechTarget's case, the company last year completely abandoned print, which accounted for 5% of its revenue in both the first and second quarters of 2008.

TechTarget's event revenue, which accounts for about 20% of its overall revenue, has taken a beating and was down almost 50% in the first half. But the company's Internet revenue, although it fell in both the first and second quarters, has shown some resilience. In the first quarter, Internet revenue, which made up the lion's share of the company's total, dropped 11%. In the second quarter Internet revenue was off just 7%.

The company said it expects revenue of $21.7 million to $22.7 million in the third quarter. Last year's third-quarter revenue totaled $25.2 million.

Sam Whitmore, editor of MediaSurvey.com, said it's difficult to measure TechTarget's health without a key statistic: the company's total number of advertisers. “TechTarget lives or dies with the bottom of the iceberg,” Whitmore said.

In 2004, TechTarget had more than 2,000 advertisers according to a press release issued at the time. Strakosch said the company currently has about 1,500. He said the number of “active advertisers” has varied little over the years. “We had a renewal rate in the second quarter of about 97%,” he said.

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