Magazine article Information Today

Following the Eyeballs

Magazine article Information Today

Following the Eyeballs

Article excerpt

From the moment the SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) Content Division's Global Information Industry Summit (GIIS), held Sept. 14-15, kicked off in Amsterdam, the message was clear. Opening keynoter Rudd Bakker, CEO of VNU Business Media Europe, summed up the concepts in a nutshell: "The Internet has changed the information needs of readers and users, changed advertiser behavior, and brought new entrants," he said. "Users have become actors. Local markets have become global. Publishing's model, that one-size-fits-all[,] has been transformed by customization."

Helen Alexander, chief executive of The Economist Group, later noted: "We are seeing a very different pattern of behavior by both the customer and the advertiser. There are shifts in media consumption, and the ad dollars are following the eyeballs."

To meet the challenge, several speakers advocated the creation of vertical market portals, while others focused their sights on new geographic markets.

SIIA's first foray in conferences outside the U.S. appropriately adopted a global theme. Participants discussed market opportunities in Asia, the EU, and Latin America, while exploring strategies for localization, serving multinational customers, and working with governments. Licensing and intellectual property concerns were also on the tight meeting schedule.

Mixed Reviews for China

Whatever topic was broached, the discussion often focused on China. But reviews for the market opportunities behind the "great firewall" were mixed.

On the eve of the SIIA Global Summit, the pink-hued pages of the Financial Times (FT) reported that China had clamped down on foreign media that were providing news and economic information to China. Such information providers will now need to work through the state-owned and -operated Xinhua News Agency in delivering services to Chinese customers (http://www.ft .com/cms/s/95e6137e-41ec-11db-b4ab-00 00779e2340.html, FT, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006, p. 4, "China Tightens Leash on Foreign Media," by Mure Dickie in Beijing).

"Xinhua," according to Paul Woodward of the Business Strategies Group, "wants to use its muscle to establish a commercial monopoly for itself. Reuters, Bloomberg, etc., all have to submit information for approval and distribution now."

Woodward then suggested that perhaps Japan was still the most viable market in the Far East, rather than China being the "new Japan."

"Japan has an economy almost two times as large as China," he said. "It's the world's second largest economy and it will sustain good prices for good products. There are especially opportunities for finely focused, niche products. The U.S. is the only other country to sustain strong niches."

While the panelists were concerned about China because of censorship concerns, regulations, and general difficulty in doing business there, the audience voiced other sentiments.

"STM has done very well in China," said Jim McGinty, vice chairman of the Cambridge Information Group, "in affiliation with university interests-things can be done."

[Sidebar]

John Lervik, CEO and co-founder of Fast Search & Transfer, reported that 59 percent of money spent on online advertising (including online placement on the public search engines) is from budgets that previously funded ad buys in other media. The ad dollars follow the eyeballs, and so do the publishers.

[Sidebar]

To meet the challenge, several speakers advocated the creation of vertical market portals, while others focused their sights on new geographic markets.

[Sidebar]

George Beckerman, partner at Marlin & Associates, compared the longstanding U. …

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