Direct agency leverages database for 'IT Solution Journal'

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Byron Crowell is betting the database he’s developed over the last seven years will help his newly launched IT Solution Journal thrive in what continues to be a brutal advertising market for technology publications.

IT Solution Journal debuted this month as a bimonthly with a controlled circulation of 25,000 information technology professionals. Plans call for it to go monthly this summer, with a circulation boost to 75,000. Razorfish Inc., Parasoft and top the list of initial advertisers.

IT execs contribute

Much of the content of IT Solution Journal is being contributed by IT executives at Fortune 1000 companies who write about their solutions to problems in such areas as Web security and software development. Case studies direct readers to the magazine’s Web site,, for more details.

The magazine is an offshoot of NuOS Corp., a Los Angeles-based direct marketing agency that Crowell created in 1995; it boasts a database of more than 500,000 names in the IT space. NuOS’ clients include Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

"What we got pretty good at is a technique that identifies the key decision-makers for purchasing gear, Internet systems and servers," said Crowell, who is also president-CEO of Solution Publishing, which publishes IT Solution Journal. "We have additional surveys on what’s already been installed and who is the decision-maker on what has to be replaced. This way, we can talk to the right guy and cut down on the sales process."

Gerry Berton, VP-marketing for Razorfish, said Crowell has taken an unconventional approach to launching the publication.

"Based on how actively they manage the database, it’s almost like it’s beyond controlled circulation," Berton said. "They’re taking it to the next level of qualification and, from a direct marketing point of view, leveraging a database that’s highly accurate. Most magazines start the other way around."

Berton said NuOS stays on top of the names that comprise its lists. "Advertisers are looking to reach the decision-makers, which is not necessarily the broadest reach but something that’s based on quality," he said.

John Abbott, chief analyst, said: "The company has built up the contacts very carefully. You know there’s not a lot of filler in there, but people who want to read the publication and are not hangers-on."

Still, however rich, a list of decision-makers doesn’t necessarily translate to quality content that will bring readers back to the publication.

"It’s one thing to get a great list; it’s another to fill a need. And it’s hard to figure out what the need is that’s not already being covered," said Jeffrey Dearth, a partner with media investment banking firm DeSilva & Phillips. "If they’re correct and have magically identified the key decision-makers, then you have to go put together a compelling editorial product in a very competitive field, and that’s no easy task."

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