Ziff Davis Buys Lead Gen Enterprise Outfit Focus Research


Credit: Joseph Moran

Over the past year, Ziff Davis has transformed itself from being a digital-only tech publisher primarily known for running PCMag.com to a broader content/marketing play by adding audience ad targeting and e-commerce. Now, the company is expanding into lead gen for the enterprise IT space with the acquisition of Focus Research, says Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah.

The deal, terms of which were undisclosed, was managed by The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. This was Ziff Davis’ third acquisition since Shah left Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) and took over the tech publisher in June 2010.

“The purchase of Focus is an indication of how well things were going for Ziff Davis,” Shah said. “We’re up 50 percent up in revenue over last year. This acquisition puts us in triple digit territory. But for the most part, we feel that it’s important to have an enterprise piece.”

The overarching theme of Ziff Davis is to influence technology purchases. But instead of concentrating on individuals, it makes to have a a major b2b function for enterprise companies and marketers. To drive that point home, Focus Research will be rebranded as “Ziff Davis B2B Focus” and will operate as a stand-alone unit. The new business unit will continue to operate out of its current offices in San Francisco as well.

However, a small piece of Focus Research will go off on its own and will not be joining Ziff Davis. A small group of Focus Research employees, including CEO Scott Albro, will leave to work on building out Focus.com as a “social questions and answers” similar to Quora that will remain unconnected with Ziff Davis.

Shah didn’t see a fit with for social Q&A within Ziff Davis. Instead, he sees lead gen and performance-based ads as a way to round out the company’s traditional emphasis on selling premium display. “There’s been a a realization that for most content-based businesses, you can’t rely solely on premium display advertising,” Shah said. “Some publishers are employing some form of paid content. We think that lead gen is a perfect expansion of what we’re already doing.”

Over the next few months, Shah expects to roll out more e-commerce features. “Everything we do revolves around content, data and commerce, and that is what we’ll continue to build on,” Shah said, adding that he expects to do more in-house work on those projects as opposed to looking for more acquisitions.

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