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How Rafat Ali Found a Job (Part 8)

Posted on Thursday, Sep 11th 2008

SM: Who are your primary advertisers? What is the source of revenue?

RA: Over the years it has broadened quite a bit. The focus quickly expanded to cover all digital media. We follow all the ways content is paid for, whether it is subscription, hybrid models, pay per view, etc. Initially, the advertisers were software companies selling subscriptions to media companies. Over the years they have ranged from mobile content players to broadband and video companies. As we started doing conferences, content companies got involved. Media companies had no reason to be involved until we started doing the conferences, then they wanted to be associated with the industry.

We also saw some specialized advertising from digital media investment banks who were looking to do specialized deals. There were a few law firms. Even now we are not that strong in the area of law firms. That is one growth area we want to focus on.

SM: Segmentation is always good. Niche is good.

RA: This is why In 2005 I started contentSutra, the India site. I started that site because I knew the market and it was English speaking on the business side. The thought was we would start a site at the time when foreign investors, media companies, VCs, and others were starting to enter India. We would help them navigate the Indian digital media market, both online and mobile, with our site.

A few months down the line our premise was proved completely wrong. The market was not ready. It became a site for the Indian digital media executives. That is still true now.

SM: Were you still having success with your conferences at the same time?

RA: We did our second conference last year in New York on future business media. That was again a big conference. Some of the biggest names in the industry were there. Within two weeks of announcing the conference News Corp made a bid on Dow Jones, Thompson and Reuters merged, and Fox announced their business channel. All these big events in the business media industry happened within a few weeks of our announcing our Future of Business Media Conference. It was just the greatest timing for us. It was sold out and we had great sponsors.

All of this was going on, and then late last year we started paidContent:UK late last year to cover the UK market. I knew the UK from my background as well. It was of course also English speaking on the business side.

SM: Is it safe for me to guess you were at a few hundred thousand page views across all of the sites by the end of last year?

RA: Yes. We are over a million page views across our sites. We have about 50,000 newsletter subscribers and 40,000 RSS subscribers. One of the frustrations I have had is that people look at us as one blog. We are not. We are four different blogs, we have conferences, and we have newsletters. Most of the senior people in the industry read us through the newsletter. They actually have jobs, so they get it once a day in the morning, then they go do their jobs. They are not going to the site five times a day obsessively. A lot of the business people who are in senior positions read us once a day. This has been consistent over the six years of the site. The phrase we hear is, “We wake up with you,” and if you think about it, that is the most powerful thing you can dream of.

A lot of people say they ditch the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times for the newsletter. One executive told me he reads the newsletter before he sees his wife’s face in the morning. When I hear things like that it really makes me understand the value of loyalty, and the power of being their daily read. There is a reason we send the newsletter at 6 a.m. EST.

This segment is part 8 in the series : How Rafat Ali Found a Job
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