Questex Media Group, the b-to-b media company formed last year from five former divisions of Advanstar, has not been seen as an online leader so far in its short existence. But the naming of Seth Nichols to the newly created position of VP-digital media “signals a greater commitment, on the whole, to the digital space,” Nichols said.
Before joining Questex on July 10, Nichols had been director of media enterprise services for Amazon.com, a position he says is hard to describe “because some of the work has not yet been seen. I was working with content owners—publishers, broadcasters, movie producers—to develop offerings that went beyond retail relationships.”
Nichols is not a newcomer to b-to-b media. He worked at CMP Media (now CMP Technology) in several management positions, including president-CEO of its Internet group, before founding an online media distribution company for subscription Web sites.
All told, Nichols has been involved with the Internet for more than 15 years. Before joining CMP in the late 1990s, he was a computer reseller, part of the audience for CMP’s channel group of publications.
In a statement heralding Nichols’ arrival, Questex President-CEO Kerry Gumas noted the company’s digital media revenue has grown 47% this year.
When pressed as to the extent to which Questex will invest in new digital media projects and capabilities, Nichols said: “We certainly do not intend to manage our existing sites as is. We’re not investing like it’s [the Internet heyday of] 1999, but we are investing. Not everything is ‘green-lit,’ but we will be driving new opportunities.”
Nichols said he is starting to work with Questex staff to take advantage of these opportunities. “Digital media is only one answer,” he said. “We want to make sure we leverage the digital platform by creating tools that will help people be more efficient in their jobs and provide connections that add value.”
He noted that his business-to-consumer experience with Amazon taught him that the Internet is an excellent way to connect people. “We’re not looking to create MySpace for b-to-b, but there are underlying fundamental concepts in that phenomenon that are not fads,” he said. “In b-to-b, there’s really a greater commitment from both sides, vendors and audiences, to create relationships than in b-to-c.”
Nichols will be assessing the people and technologies of Questex’s digital group as he looks to grow the business. “We have a pretty good infrastructure. It’s not holding us back,” he said. “And I’ve been pleased to find that the people here have good skills. Going forward, we’ll look to balance the expertise we want to develop and keep in-house with what’s available from outside vendors.”