Every year, Media Business' selection of 10 Great Media Websites provides a status report on the industry's ongoing digital shift. Although the U.S. economy is providing little tailwind to drive growth, business media companies continue to invest in digital infrastructure and innovation as their executives envision a profitable digital future.
Bob Sullivan, exec VP-group publisher of Northstar Travel Media's Travel Group, is one of those optimists. “We've invested heavily across our entire digital portfolio. The digital marketplace has been very strong for us in 2012, and we expect to see the benefits of continued growth throughout the year, into 2013 and beyond,” he said.
“I believe that 2012 will be positive for the digital media market,” said Mike Perlis, president-CEO of Forbes Media. “From Forbes' perspective, we are aggressively continuing to evolve the site and to introduce groundbreaking online advertising solutions, which we are confident will have a favorable impact on our business.”
Steve Reiss, VP-publishing director at Vance Publishing Corp., also sees tremendous opportunities in digital media, but he said media companies can't afford to become complacent in the fast-evolving digital world. “It's clearly not the easy money that some thought would flow just from posting print content online,” he said. “Digital media is a lot of work, with a steep and constant learning curve,” he said.
Overall, slightly more than half of the 54 websites submitted for review for this year's Great Media Websites special report qualify as relaunches—a sign that publishers are putting financial, human and technology resources behind their words.
Among the eight websites featured in this report, seven were redesigned in whole or part in recent years. The eighth, launched in December 2011, is EH Publishing's TechDecisions Media, which is actually a family of six separate websites.
Two of the 10 digital media products featured this year are—for the first time—mobile applications. Both are new. The Financial Times' FT Web app is a year old, and Architectural Record's CEU app is less than two months old.
Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, noted that a December 2011 report from research company eMarketer “found that, for the first time, people are spending more time each day on mobile devices [65 minutes] than with print media [44 minutes]. As this trend accelerates, emerging digital platforms carry great potential for all publishers to reach new audiences, to create more efficient publishing businesses through data analytics and to deliver their content cost-effectively,” he said.
Keith Fox, president of McGraw-Hill Construction, said, “We expect increased adoption of mobile tablets and smartphones to lead to more product innovation, bringing about new ways to engage with architects and the design and construction community, as well as new ways for our sponsors to deliver impact.”
Kathy Astromoff is CEO of UBM Electronics, whose portfolio includes Design News, recognized as an outstanding tech site in this report. “The way our audience is consuming media is changing—whether it's on the go, via multiple devices or simply different format preferences,” she said.
“We're evolving our brands to serve changing demand and to expand and deepen our relationship with our audiences. And, they're responding positively.”
Ken Moyes, CEO of EH Publishing, said, “During the past year, EH Publishing has made investments in infrastructure, staff and content development to keep our brands in the places our readers expect them and in the format that best suits their needs.
“TechDecisions Media is just one of the advances we've made in digital media. You'll also find our brands in social media, delivered for mobile use, and in new and surprising ways to come in the year ahead.”