IDG CEO: ‘We Have to Create Something Entirely New for the Web’

BobBio.jpgLast week, we heard Bob Carrigan speak at the 2008 American Magazine Conference about making money in the online world. The CEO of IDG Communications worldwide had some interesting ideas, so earlier today we spoke with him by phone.

Carrigan, whose company publishes GamePro, Mac World, PC World and a host of others, said that since IDG’s publications are in the technology sector, the company “jumped in early and has been experimenting aggressively” on the Web. On the b-to-b side of the business, they are using their vast databases to develop lead generations that are then sold to marketers. This practice has been increasingly successful and lucrative.

Carrigan also spoke about his vision for magazine Web sites. “The industry talks a lot about the transition from print to online … We have to create something entirely new for the Web,” he said. “It’s about creating something that’s pure for the Web.”

But how does one do that? Well, having your own global news service is a great start.

The IDG News Service is a “global new service” that “only syndicates news to internal IDG sites,” he said. Although its been around for upwards of 20 years — pre-Internet, it was used primarily to send news around the world for inclusion in the international editions of various magazines — the service has been instrumental in providing sites with interesting, constantly refreshed and original content. “[Our] brands will take the stories and make them their own,” Carrigan said. “Most technology stories are relevant to their Web site.”

IDG Web sites also rely on their users to create content. “We have very active communities that contribute content and insight,” the CEO explained, while remarking that features from the print magazines make up less than one percent of the content on each site. The result is a “standalone” site that can “compete against pure play competitors.”

In the near future, IDG — like so many other companies — will look to expand into the mobile realm. Having a presence in 85 countries helps this venture. “In the area of mobile, the U.S. is way behind,” Carrigan said, noting that many developments in the mobile arena have come from IDG’s outposts across the Atlantic.