David Newcorn

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David Newcorn doesn't think it's harder for a small company to innovate on the Web than it is for a large one. "We both have struggles, but they're different. Big companies certainly have more resources, but they have a lot of competition for those resources and a lot of layers of decision-making smaller companies don't have."

Summit Publishing Co.'s top online innovation, Newcorn said, is its database strategy, which enables registered users to sign up for additional products with a single click.

He explained: "If you present a user with a 37-question registration form to get a white paper, for instance, the best rate of conversion is probably 5%. When users who are registered in our database hit a registration wall, they are asked if they are willing to be contacted, `Yes' or `No'. Then, with one click, they can get what they want. For some products, we have conversion rates up to 50%."

For advertisers, Summit has developed "some pretty sophisticated lead-handling tools," Newcorn said. "For example, we have the ability to classify leads and automatically distribute them. Then we can go even further and automatically generate a personalized postcard on the advertiser's behalf for the registrant."

In some cases, Newcorn has been ahead of the market. "We've had a library of machine videos on our Packaging World site for years," he said. But because there wasn't much advertiser interest, development and marketing stopped.

"I recently did some research with our users, and one of the top things they said they wanted was a library of machine videos," he said. "Since we already have the assets, we'll take a fresh look at that business." -M.G.

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