IDG Focuses On Digital Ad Properties While Building Out Reach

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pete-longoWithin IDG's $3.55 billion global revenue across all businesses last year, its share of US online revenues remained stable at 66% in fiscal year 2013 from 2012. By contrast, the company's US print share of revenues slipped to 19% last fiscal year, from 21%. Consequently, IDG intends to concentrate on its Web strength even more this year, said Pete Longo, CEO of IDG’s vertical ad network TechNetwork and the IDG Consumer & SMB unit.

If last year revolved around laying the groundwork for expanding exchange-based businesses, particularly its private marketplaces and data-management platform (DMP), video is this year’s focal point.

"We launched IDG.tv in November because it made perfect sense to have dedicated site for regular programming beyond consumer and enterprise technology, and spread our wings to include more lifestyle content," Longo said. "Although Microsoft was our launch sponsor, we also see IDG.tv as a way to attract marketers that are peripheral to tech, like automakers."

Despite cultivating this new ground, IDG is still working to support its vertical ad network IDG TechNetwork. While IDG TechNetwork’s gains didn't change much in 2013, an IDG representative claims the ad network, which has roughly 500 "network partners" across 2,000 sites has generated a "fivefold revenue increase from 2009 to 2013."

IDG hopes to take advantage of a two-year ongoing shift in which exchange-based buying through agency trading desks has become more mainstream for marketers. It also hopes to preserve the vertical ad network model, which involves aligning with smaller sites with a similar focus and readership. That approach was considered the best answer publishers could do to blunt the effects of audience buying in 2008. But even now, the idea of the ad network is in danger of becoming anachronistic.

This is a major reason why IDG developed a DMP in 2012.

"This year is going to be a fantastic year for publishers who are using their own data," Longo said. "2013 was the year of experimentation. The DMP helps us spot trends, it helps us better organize our advertising around specific audiences. The foundation of the network, however, gives us the scale that makes that data and the niche audience segments we create more valuable."

Alongside the DMP and the IDG TechNetwork's first-party data, Longo is expecting the private marketplace to do more heavy lifting for its sales team as well.

"The private marketplace deals are going to be the fastest-growing advertising program we have this year," Longo said. "It makes sense, because advertisers want to know that they can get access to premium audiences, and they want guarantees around available placements and flexibility on pricing. Advertisers can come to us, they know we've got rich data and they know we've got valuable inventory, both on our own brands and externally via the network and our exchange reach."

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