Interview: Adam Doree, Kikizo: Indie Web Publishers Are Still Viable

The independent web publishing community may have lost Shiny Media for now, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

Kikizo – a below-the-radar, entertainment-centric web publisher that mixes contract online writing with own-brand content – is launching, a site billing itself as “a high-definition crack den” for movie disc fans…

Leicester Square-based Kikizo was started by Adam Doree, after selling Gamerweb to Telecoms TV, in 2003 as an eponymous site with games news, reviews and interviews. Doree has since expanded the Kikizo network, running recently-launched casual games blog for AOL (NYSE: TWX) and managing AOL UK, France and Germany games channels.

“I believe our experience and a clearly defined strategy will mean that we perform where others have struggled (eg. Shiny Media) or failed (as indeed I did on my first publishing venture, learning valuable lessons along the way),” Doree said. “Meanwhile, numerous competitors who are performing show that there is no shortage of revenue out there, and that not all of it goes straight to the megaportals.”

And he issued a come-and-get-me “We are now at a stage where I think partnering with a strong business, individual or investor in a related market could potentially be a smart move that allows us to expand more aggressively. We have seen superb examples in the market where sensible alliances at the right time make all the difference – eg. ex-Future Publishing CEO Greg Ingham and Eurogamer, an independent market leader in UK.

While tech-centric or geek-focused indie publishers have had few problems building an audience (Dennis and Future have done occasional acquisitions), in the lifestyle category they have had littler success.

For Doree, his new site signifies an expansion from games in to entertainment more generally – but aimed at high-end videophiles. Blu-ray is an interesting choice – the format is seeing slow pick-up, constituting just 1.8 percent of non-US video sales and projected to reach only 6.9 percent next year, according to recent Screen Digest figures.

But Doree said: “Blu-ray is a great opening example of our strategy as it’s a valuable, high disposable income demographic, and an area we think is undercatered to online with only a small handful of existing competitors …

“Our strategy is looking at what media buyers are demanding most within our realm of expertise, and designing products around these needs. Right now they absolutely need a Blu-ray vehicle … The growth rate of Blu-ray is faster than DVD’s was.” He’s hoping to leverage’s audience of Blu-ray owning Playstation 3 owners, and is seeking brand campaigns as funding.

The site is headed by Hollywood-based Carl Johnson with two staff writers. Still self-funded, Kikizo has ad sales ops in London and LA, employs mainly freelance and contract writers and plans more vertical site launches.

Doree tells me: “The next launches are back on the gaming side of things, but we’re not launching an Xbox blog or a tech blog; everyone else is already doing that just fine, so what would be the point?!”