Many of the member companies of the American Business Media association, meeting this week in Amelia Island, Fla., are living through the transition from print to digital media. Jason Young, CEO of Ziff Davis Media, lived through that transition already and imparted five, high-level rules to the group during a keynote presentation this morning. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Mike Azzara summarizes the insights Young shared.
Many of the member companies of the American Business Media association are
living through the transition from print to digital media. During his keynote
presentation at the association's meeting this week in Amelia Island, Fla., Jason
Young, CEO of Ziff Davis Media, imparted
five high-level rules to the group for surviving such a transition. Young started
his keynote presentation by showing his pre-transition, youthful
photo from 2001 and then showed his current headshot-to widespread laughter and
spontaneous applause. Then he jumped directly into his "operating
Rule No. 1: Set a realistic timeline on demand expectations
"We constantly underestimated the speed with which print would decline,"
Young said. "We also underestimated the growth potential of the digital
He then offered the assembled B2B media CEOs a formula for calculating print
"Whatever projection you have for print, in terms of its rate of
decline, increase that by 50 percent, take a deep breath ... and then double
Rule No. 2: Manage the print business for cash and the digital business
"You have to align your resource allocation to where the opportunity
lives," Young said. "You have an obligation to provide a quality
product in print, but you have to use every penny of available capital to feed
into your digital business to make it grow faster."
He explained that, as the difference between what media readers consume and
where marketers spend their budgets shrinks, billions of dollars will shift to
digital revenue. That's the opportunity-period.
Rule No. 3: Ensure you have the right digital leaders and that they are
empowered to succeed
Young said the digital business is different, and requires different skills
than the print business across all departments-content, audience marketing,
sales. Further, "early stage digital businesses must be separated as
independent businesses, empowered to do what's right for that business
Later in the transition process, they must be reintegrated-and the digital
leaders must gain control of the newly combined brand platform.
not easy-you'll have to displace the brand experts of several decades. But if
you want to ensure the survival of the brand for the long term, you have to put
in charge the people who are experts on where the future of your brand platform
separated its digital business in 2001, and reintegrated in 2006, he said.