Deep dive: The shift from quantity to quality – with examples from IDG’s Publishing Director, Matt Egan


Matt Egan. Photo credit:

Throughout the Digital Innovator’s Summit (DIS) 2018, representatives of companies fromacross the globe took to the stage to share their insights about how they are growing their businesses. For the mid morning segment on the second day, Matt Egan, Editorial Director at IDG, explained how IDG has adapted its business model and where it is likely to venture to in the future focusing on premium quality content as being at the core of its strategy.

Matt Egan presented his story entitled ‘IDG’s secret weapon – what we understand about engagement with an audience.’

Matt explained that IDG is an independent global media company with both print and digital products.

“We live in the part of the model where media and tech meet,” he explained. “The pace of change has never been faster. This presentation is a snapshot of where we are and where we are headed. What never changes is our strategy focused on engaging a high value audience and working with them to enable high value transactions.”

Matt then ran through the organisational structure of IDG explaining how it has “boots on the ground in many countries,” but that its strategy is determined by languages and cities. The teams in its core cities develop best practices which, when aligned to local knowledge, work successfully across the globe.

“We are constantly looking for increased collaboration across editorial teams,” Matt added. “While enabling them to satisfy local demand. For example, we share data so we know what is working and not working, but the local teams add their unique flavour to the content.”

Data-supported content strategy

Matt then went on to outline why a data-driven content strategy is so crucial to IDG. “If you understand why people search then you can target editorial expertise in the right place to serve them. The reader decides what they want to know and we provide the information. Everything we do is driven by delivering the best possible answers for what people are looking for, using our editorial expertise. Quality is so important especially as search engines are getting harder to game.”

He then described how the US B2B editorial team are defending specific search terms with high quality responses. “We are combining traditional arts and science,” Matt said.

Matt said another key element to IDG’s current strategy was analytics and data segmentation

“We look at both data on our own properties and on the wider web. So, for example, we track data so we can see if someone with a job title of a CIO is looking at our content. Third party data platforms also help us to understand what is happening on rival publications in our space.”

The data is then deployed to make the most of the monetisation opportunities. For example, tracking someone who is making a purchase after being through an editorial page. A single visit from one such engaged purchase maker is infinitely more valuable than 10 casual readers. Although Matt added that while getting brands and readers to spend money is paramount, IDG’s approach is underpinned by editorial independence. He acknowledged that if IDG lost this it would not remain relevant to its audience.

Matt described the audiences that IDG serves as being both global and local. The titles invariably focus on a specific niche in specific languages. There is also a focus on delivering content that readers can’t get elsewhere – IDG doesn’t, for example, major on news stories.

Part of IDG’s core approach is driven by the quality of the editors it employs. Matt describes the approach as being “not data driven journalism, rather data supported journalism.” Editors use their independence, integrity and knowledge to help shape the titles so that they address the requirements of the readers.

Matt finished the presentation by talking about the cornerstones of measurement and engagement.

“We measure success, not on page views anymore. These days it is about lots of things – ecommerce revenue, email sign ups, search page views, video and more.”

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