Media executives tout value of the Internet to publishers

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Los Angeles—Publishers should embrace, rather than fear, the arrival of new media, media executives said Thursday in a panel discussion at the Western Publications Association's Two-Day Publishing Conference.

"I believe that every new medium reinforces and strengthens existing media," said Joe Hanson, chairman of Professional Media Group. "There are great opportunities right now."

Hanson, who last month received the American Business Media's G.D. Crain Jr. Award for contributions to the development of editorial excellence in business media, urged audience members to produce Webinars and look for ways to monetize their archives.

Gordon Hughes II, ABM president-CEO, echoed Hanson's remarks regarding the selling of archival material. "That's something you should all be doing," he said.

Dan McCarthy, president-CEO of Gallarus Media Holdings, said the Internet has brought truer engagement with consumers of media, and that means publishers must be even more focused on readers' interests.

"The product has to be so clearly aligned with the interests of the target audience," he said, "and if you haven't done that, there is no way it can be successful in your industry."

Taking a big picture view, McCarthy noted the positive impact of new media. "More people are spending more time with text and images than at any time in the history of mankind," he said.

Panelists also addressed marketers' increasing demand that publishers demonstrate the ROI of advertising.

"These things come to the fore every time there's a recession," Hughes said of the emphasis on ROI. But with the development of sophisticated media measurement techniques, marketers will continue to focus on ROI, even in good times, he said.

In past recoveries, Hughes said, "we've gone back to a couple of Knicks tickets and a martini. This time, it's not going away."

The WPA conference concludes Friday evening with the presentation of annual Maggie Awards for excellence in editorial, design and promotion.

—John Obrecht

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