Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

ThoughtLeader Interview: IDG Media Mogul Patrick McGovern

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 11, 2009

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I recently met with Patrick McGovern, founder and chairman of the media giant IDG. I've long been an admirer of Mr McGovern and consider him one of the savviest media executives on the planet, alongside Rupert Murdoch at News Corp.

IDG is best known as a publisher of technology titles such as Computerworld, and many others. These days Mr McGovern is leading the changes in the media world and taking advantage of the Internet's media technologies to expand his publishing empire across the world.

Traditional media can learn important lessons from IDG. In 2002 about 86% of its revenues came from print. In 2008 print shrank to 37% of revenues, with online publishing generating more than half of all revenues, with the rest from events, for a total of $3.2 billion.

Here are some notes from our meeting.

- We have changed from being a classic publisher to becoming a web based publisher across all our titles.

- The key is great content and being able to maintain great communities online.

- Lead generation is a key part of our business these days.

- Building a database of contacts is critical to our business.

- We managed to increase our revenues last year. About one-half of that increase was by charging more for lead generation.

- We can make a good estimate from public data how much a lead is worth to a company. That allows us to increase our prices for lead gen.

- Regional conferences are important especially these days because of travel budget restrictions. Our attendance at regional conferences has gone up.

- We have increased revenues by 10 per cent. Our US and West European business is the worst, we've had about a 2 per cent staff reductions but East Europe is still doing relatively well, Brazil is good, and so is China, India, and Vietnam.

- Being a private company has a lot of benefits, there are fewer distractions. When IDG Books went public, the management was distracted by Wall Street and made some mistakes in acquisitions and in strategy.

- We have venture capital funds and we've been making investments in China, Vietnam, and Korea.

- We also invest in movies and we see this as a good business.

- We've also been expanding our IDG tech ad network that handles advertising on more than 150 sites.

- Our market research group is doing well. This is a counter cyclical business. Demand for information is higher when there is uncertainty. We're seeing a 50 per cent increase in demand.

- We have more than 100 operating companies. We're currently combining all of our databases to do better at lead generation.

- - About 30 per cent of web site visits come from other countries. Normally, we wouldn't get any credit for lead generation from that traffic, now, we are able to hand it over to clients in those countries because of integrating our databases.

Here is Forbe's interview with Patrick McGovern:

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