Ziff Davis Pubs Push Lead-Gen Biz


Ziff Davis, the publisher of PC Magazine, sealed a deal Tuesday to acquire Focus Research, allowing the publisher to offer lead-generation to brands that want to advertise across its network of publications.

The publisher had offerings in CPM, CPC and CPA advertising solutions, but not cost per lead -- and that's a product marketers wanted, according to Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah. "It completes the overall picture for the company," he said.

The research firm has a library of mostly white papers and Webinars designed to inform IT decision makers about things like voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), networking, storage and security solutions.

That content, used to qualify interest from sites like ITManagement. com, ITSecurity.com, VOIPNews.com and InsideCRM.com, becomes the first step in the sales process. The leads are sold to the IT vendors. High-quality leads convert to sales. About a dozen Web sites feed the lead-gen platform and the database.

Focus Research, renamed "Ziff Davis B2B Focus," will operate as a stand-alone unit of Ziff Davis. The new business unit will continue to operate from its offices in San Francisco.

Shah had been looking at companies to purchase across the lead-generation and B2B space. He chose to acquire the company because of its digital content. The company also built a "quality" database that produced high response rates with low turnover. The 6-year-old company also has a "start-up vibe" that manages to generate "tens of millions in revenue" and is growing about "25% annually."

Apparently, Ziff Davis' emergence from bankruptcy continues to go well. Shah said before this acquisition, revenue for 2011 will rise by 50% compared with the prior year. With the acquisition, revenue enters the "triple digits." He estimates Web traffic on consumer sites will reach 13 million this month -- up from 12 million sequentially, and up 72% year-on-year.

The ad-targeting platform, BuyerBase, which launched in Q1 2011, now supports about half of Ziff Davis' advertisers.

As for mobile, Shah admits there's work to do. "I'm not sure we have figured out how to fully monetize on mobile, but we're working on it," he said. "If the iPad paid-app business proves profitable, we'll become more aggressive, but I've been on the fence about it."


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