IDG taps into ‘vendor-as-publisher’ model

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IDG Enterprise’s new Strategic Content Services (SCS) unit is designed to fortify IDG’s position among the growing number of b-to-b media companies whose businesses are expanding into marketing services.

SCS, launched in May, offers clients content development and optimization services to help drive traffic to their websites and social networks. “It’s an extension of everything we do,” said Charles Lee, senior VP of the IDG Enterprise Strategic Content Services and Custom Solutions Group and Strategic Marketing Services (SMS). “SCS is leveraging our core expertise in technology content, search, audiences and user engagement.”

IDG’s SMS, which was rolled out last September, works with tech clients to develop custom integrated programs such as social media marketing. IDG Enterprise, which is a subsidiary of IDG, includes CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World.

“Vendors realize they need to enhance relationships with their customers and attract prospects with relevant, informative content,” Lee said. “This is where IDG can apply its deep understanding of what appeals to IT users as they make purchase decisions.”

Lee said SCS supports the emerging “vendor-as-publisher” model. “It plays into the traditional sense of products and services we provide but from a content standpoint, with a focus on what’s optimized for the Web, such as articles, blogs and social conversations.”

Standalone custom projects that are not tied to other marketing or media programs now account for 40% of IDG Enterprise’s custom revenue. Lee could not provide revenue projections for this year.

Mike Winkleman, president of custom publishing company Leverage Media and immediate past chairman of the Custom Publishing Council, said he didn’t consider IDG’s expansion of its custom publishing services a threat to smaller companies that specialize in custom content. “If [the program] is successful and is embraced by sponsors, and IDG can prove the ROI, it helps all other custom publishers and provides more acceptance for this type of publishing,” he said.

Custom publishing has long represented only a tiny portion of publishers’ overall revenue. However, in the last few years what’s now being called “custom content” has gained ground amid the seismic changes in b-to-b media.

“It’s not that custom is moving to the core, but the core is moving to custom media,” said Anne O’Brien, exec VP-marketing and strategic planning for SourceMedia, whose brands include American Banker, Financial Planning and National Mortgage News. “On a strategic level, publishers understand what marketers are trying to achieve beyond the brand awareness that was traditionally the province of advertising.”

SourceMedia’s custom media revenue was flat last year compared with 2008 but is projected to grow 25% this year, O’Brien said. “Custom media groups are now having conversations with customers at a much broader level that includes a wide array of marketing objectives,” she said.

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