Advantage aims to pump up e-media

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Rich Reiff, CEO of Advantage Business Media, is implementing a plan designed to pump up the company’s e-media revenue by 40% or more in its 2009 fiscal year, which begins July 1. A key element of the plan was the hiring of Volodya Krul as senior director of e-business. Krul joined Advantage in late March after 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where he worked in e-commerce, electronic marketing and product development.

Krul will specifically oversee Web development, Web production and webcast production at Advantage. He manages a team of about 20 people, including developers, project managers, SEO/SEM specialists, ad placement personnel and Web production staff. He reports directly to Reiff.

Jeff Jost, who was director of inside sales at Cygnus Business Media for eight years, has joined Advantage as director of media sales, tasked with developing a team of dedicated inside sales professionals focused on growing revenue from digital content.

In addition, Advantage has recruited and begun training 10 new digital media sales staff and plans to add a director of digital content, eight online editors and an online audience development manager.

In the two years since Reiff, Advantage President George Fox and Catalyst Investors purchased the Rockaway, N.J.-based RNP division from Reed Business Information, management has evaluated every aspect of the company and focused on improving profitability and performance.

Take e-newsletters, for example. “We mail slightly fewer but cover more markets and subjects,” Reiff said. “Plus, we have increased our return on each one anywhere from 50% to 100%. … We’re focusing on quality over quantity.” Monthly impressions for Web banner advertising grew from under 3 million in the first quarter of 2007 to more than 6.5 million in the first three months of this year.

At the beginning of Advantage’s 2008 fiscal year last July, the company budgeted to add 20 positions to the 23 people dedicated to e-media, Reiff said. Most of those people, including Krul, have been hired.

While Krul heads a centralized team of e-media specialists, individual business units have also added people to perform e-media duties, such as writing for the Web.

Advantage also invested in an Ektron content management system. So far, five of Advantage’s 20 sites have been relaunched on the new CMS, including those of ECN and Wireless Week, as well as Scientific Computing’s Web site is scheduled to be relaunched any day.

One of Krul’s responsibilities is to accelerate the migration of the sites to the new platform, Reiff said.

“The CMS gives the editors the tools to post directly to the Web and keep their content fresh,” Krul said. Editors will also have access to weekly and monthly metrics reports so they can give readers more of what they want.

Site users, meanwhile, will have more tools to allow them to interact with the editors, including commenting on articles. Going forward, “we want to go beyond comments and enable users to interact, to engage in more of a dialogue,” Krul said.

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