CondeNet Builds Topic-Based Websites

As reported in The Wall Street Journal November 28, 2007, CondeNet has taken the path least traveled, and it has made all the difference.

Most publishers are giving away content or employing lame attempts to invoke a fee-based model. While the latter might work for The New York Times and other biggies, it’s a tough sell for small titles. Consumers simply won’t be bullied into buying what they perceive should be free. The tendency for publishers (or the result, whichever comes first) has been to repurpose print content on the web, a blatant disregard for innovation and of limited appeal.

How many automotive publisher websites have you seen that truly take advantage of all the web has to offer?

CondeNet, on the other hand, have developed websites based on themes such as travel and fashion… where the automotive equivalent could be vintage racing, restoration, buyer’s guides, marque histories, whatever. CondeNet’s web vitals are a sobering wake-up call:

  • Web traffic increase of 16% (October) over same period last year to 9.4 M unique visitors
  • Year-to-date revenue up 49% over same period last year

Revenues associated with online activity for magazines are just 5% of total revenues, according to magazine consultant Walker Communications. With rapid erosion of advertising revenues, it may be too late for many publishers.

While online [ad revenue] is growing quickly, it is not replacing lost print revenue. None of them can compete on the web in terms of traffic.

Theme-based sites have terrific appeal and are grounded in old world methods. Remember when Sears Big Book eventually morphed into specialty lines, each with individual catalogs? Hmmm.

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