Blog Post

Industry Standard Relaunches As A Community Site; Interview: Bob Carrigan, CEO, IDG

imageIDG’s The Industry Standard gets its second life on Monday, this time as a Web-only community site with a prediction market at the center. The magazine seemed to mirror the mania of the late ’90s internet bubble – soaring too high and then eventually crashing, existing during last few years as an repository of past news stories. Details about The Standard’s latest incarnation have been dribbling out for months, as IDG began beta tests a few months ago. I spoke with Bob Carrigan, IDG Communications’ CEO, about the decision to resurrect the brand in this format. The audio of my conversation with Carrigan can be streamed or downloaded here. Excerpts below: More after the jump.

Call it a comeback: “We had an inspired group within our company [that really wanted to bring the brand] back. We get a lot of natural traffic against it and The Standard is still one of the most storied brands in the history of the internet… We certainly didn’t want to do what was done in the past. When I used to read The Standard in print, [it was] like you were part of the internet community. Today, you can be part of a live community, with all the tools we’re talking about. We’re going to be leveraging Web 2.0 community tools to be able to harness the idea of the users – and the users will be an amalgam of media, content, venture capitalists, all the people that are traditionally attracted to that brand. And they will make predictions about key areas in the internet economy: ‘Will MySpace be bigger than Facebook?’ or ‘Will Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) sell X amount of iPods?'”

Analysis and community: I also received a briefing on the new Industry Standard from Derek Butcher, The Industry Standard’s VP and GM and Infoworld CTO who was brought back to lead the reinvention. The new site will have two main components, a news channel and a community section. The emphasis on the news site will be on analysis, not breaking stories. That in turn, is intended to spark debate and conversation with the site’s community.

Place your bets: Once it goes live, the community site and prediction market will be open to anyone. Users will be given $100,000 Industry Standard Dollars (for free) to buy “contracts” in order to vote and make predictions. There will be a rating system showing which users have been most successful in making their technology bets. Typically, topics will be introduced to the site’s prediction market on a “neutral” basis – 50/50 – and then users’ bets will determine whether a particular event – the site is already been testing when whether Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will buy Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) – will come to pass. “As more people bet in favor of an event happening, the price/odds of that prediction will go up, obviously tapping out at 100 percent. But when it’s listed, a user comes in and knows the talks between Microsoft and Yahoo are really serious and places $1,000 Industry Standard Dollars in favor of that event. The odds would jump up depending on the volume. I can sit on my original bet until the event occurs or I can cash out and sell my shares as if they were stock.” So far, Intel (NSDQ: INTC) is placing a particularly big bet: the chipmaker has agreed to be the site’s main sponsor for the next three months.

In addition to The Standard, Carrigan also mentioned a number of other initiatives that IDG is pursuing, including building up its ad network and creating a new research tool that will offer data about users’ activity across its stable of sites called Market Fusion.

Market Fusion: Designed as a marketers’ resource site that aggregates research, Market Fusion will be launched within the next two months. Carrigan: “It’s a way to quantify the level of engagement a user has with our websites. It’s represents an ROI model and will help us see how users make decisions about purchasing technology products.” The system will assign scores to anonymous users based on their viewing patterns on IDG sites – e.g., what webcasts they listen to, what pages they visit, what they download, or whether the user came in, did a search and never came back. “Our goal is to become the premium player in premium lead generation business – and I emphasize the word ‘premium.'” By that, Carrigan means unlike some notorious lead gen practices, users will not be given an iPod or other incentive to provide personal data to IDG and its advertisers.

IDG Technology Network: Carrigan plans to expand IDG’s ad network with a greater number of blogs and websites outside of the company’s properties. “We’ll still sell ads on an individual basis, but a lot of marketers really want to buy on a network. We want to be able to offer them a larger audience. And that’s the impetus behind the IDG Technology Network.”

The audio of my conversation with Carrigan conversation can be streamed or downloaded here.