She says she first looked at Allbusiness in 2004. Her assessment? Good core audience of 200k users but with rudimentary publishing tools, and a notoriously difficult to reach segment – small business people. It had one thing going for it though: it was based in San Francisco.
She started in digital eight years ago as founder of Knight Ridder digital. Working at Dow Jones’ Marketwatch she began to consider whether search would become the strategic inflection point where Google provides enough information on the search page to obviate the need to visit sites like Marketwatch. That’s the point she joined AllBusiness.
Assumptions: we are living in an online world of intent-driven media; we are not long the front door, search is; readers care more about relevance than content source. The keys to success: it’s 10x more important to be agile than smart; economics of scale favours the aggregation model; and online businesses are quantitative and metrics driven.
They build a content management system which can auto-categorise aggregated content and a real time optimisation engine which can change content according to circumstances to maximise revenue. Content was built out – now there are 4m content units (licensed) in 25 types – words, video etc. There are relationships with over 800 vendors.
The audience is a broad based small business audience, very transactionally oriented, looking for solutions.
There is a lot of CPC lead generation advertising which is very targeted. They use the Fast search engine.
There are now 65 performance indicators which they track weekly. Interestingly – many of these are about spider activity.
“We analyse what sessions are being generated by each content unit and we then optimise to drive traffic up.” The key thing is the linkage into and out of each article – this is now what she describes as a science – she calls it the “blood supply”. However, the decision making around the data is very messy, she says. “The data only points you in the right direction.”
They are just about to introduce pay-per-document sales.
She says the original taxonomy wasn’t sophisticated enough, so now they license the taxonomy from Lexis-Nexis. There were 3.7m unique visitors in February and they are aiming for 5m at the end of the year. This compares with 1m uniques for the leading brand site entrepreneur.com
Only 3% of the audience comes in through the home page – search is key.
The company was bought by Dunn and Bradstreet in December last year.
So what is the next inflection?
Is it the end of advertising as we know it? Will the only thing that matters be mathematical algorithms which match users to advertising? Or will engaging user communities become key to unlocking brand advertising? She says she is just beginning to notice that brand advertisers are pulling back.
“I have 300 contacts on LinkedIn.”