jurgenYou’re based in Germany, which probably has the best advertising support of any country in the electronics industry. So why did you decide to publish pan-European titles in English?
When we started ICC Media 10 years ago, the idea was to create a new kind of publishing house which combines traditional and new media to an Integrated Communications Concept. From the very beginning, it was – and still is – our strategy to offer a one-stop service for the MARCOM activities of our customers. As a small start-up we thought it might be better to focus on a niche and to stay away from the mainstream. The niche we choose was “Embedded”. In order do not make the niche too small, we decided to publish in English and to address whole of Europe, rather than Germany only.

Isn’t the cost of sending print magazines around Europe becoming prohibitively expensive?
Yes, it is expensive. Cost is heavily depending on the weight and is usually more than 1 EUR per copy. Mailing costs and printing costs are the two items which make print magazine much more expensive than digital ones. And this is the reason why many publishers are on the road to “digital-only”. But this purely cost-driven strategy is not in line with what the readers want – at least not in Europe. The majority still prefer to read on paper. The cost driven switch to digital is in the short term good for balance sheet of the publishing companies, but in the mid-term it weakens their position in the market.

Do you really think print magazines can survive in the next five years?
You may have anticipated my answer already: Yes, I am convinced that in 5 years print magazines will still be around in Europe – less than today, but print will stay alive. It is the 40+ generation that on one hand uses the Internet for searching for information and collecting information, but prefers reading on a piece of paper, rather than on a computer screen. The majority of the engineers in the Electronics Market are these “Best Agers”, especially in senior and management positions. Therefore it makes not only sense for publishers to stay active in print, but also for advertisers.
Everything beyond that is anyway crystal ball reading. For sure technology will step forward and at some point in the future there will a new generation of iPad-like devices available with a new generation of displays which allow the same or even better reading comfort than print magazines. Reading comfort combined with the possibility to download any magazine at any time you want will be the undertaker of the print magazines. But then, I might be retired already and will enjoy reading good books during overwintering on a warm Greek island.

ICC Media has been one of the first European publishers in our industry to use online video. Why do you think you were able to see the opportunity before other publishers?
On one side – the content side – ICC Media is very focussed; we are covering “Embedded” only. But on the other side – the media side – ICC Media is a broad ranger. As I said already, it is our strategy to offer a one-stop service for the MARCOM activities of our customers. To keep our service portfolio always up-to-date, we are watching very careful what’s going with new media, web 2.0, etc. Over the last couple of years – mainly driven by portals like You Tube – videos have become quite popular, even for professionals. Therefore we decided to invest into video. Just recently we have launched the embedded-news.tv video portal. We do not only create our own video content, but also promote videos of our customers to the readers/users of our media. As part of our one-stop service strategy we are also offering the production of videos and the hosting on our embedded-news.tv portal.

Does online video generate a significant proportion of your revenue? Do you have a target for how much revenue will be driven by video/multimedia in the future?
To answer this question I need to go back a little bit. We are not – and we have never been – a publishing house in its traditional sense. From the very beginning, we have defined ourselves as platform provider. We provide platforms where the embedded industry (our advertisers) can meet embedded systems designers (our readers/users). The key to attract readers is to provide relevant content. Relevance of the content has the first priority, format of the content is secondary. In the past, online platforms used to purely provide text-based content. Even today there is still much more text-based content (new product releases, white papers, technical articles, ..) around in our industry than video/multimedia content. But in the last years more and more content was shifted into rich media, especially into Flash-based videos and webinars. Therefore: Yes, rich media is already responsible for a significant proportion of your revenue. But: No we have no target for the future. We will always try to publish content (and advertisements) in the format most suitable for our readers.

ICC Media is running a number of virtual conferences. People have tried to make virtual conferences work for many years, so why do you think they are going to work now?
The answer is simple: I know that Virtual Conferences work, because we are practising this. This year we have started 5 Virtual Conferences already and all of them have worked so far – technically and in terms of visitors (typically 200 to 300 delegates are signing-up per event). It is our plan to do around 10 new virtual conferences per year now.
But there is a long way to go. We have tried for virtual conferences and webinars, for at least 5 years. We made several attempts to establish virtual events and we failed several times, mainly due to the complexity of the technology, lack of acceptance and lack of bandwidth at the users end. Now these problems have generally been solved. We have learned our lessons and now know how it works technically (the key is to keep it simple) and in terms of users acceptance. At the beginning of this year, we launched www.iccmedia-vcon.com, our own platform for virtual conferences. Currently there are 6 virtual events online on demand as archived versions.

Do you think virtual conferences will replace physical seminars, conferences and shows?
Virtual events will never fully replace physical events. But it is fact that the number of virtual events is rapidly increasing and that the number of physical events is decreasing. This is because “virtual” is so much cheaper and less time consuming than “physical”. But a virtual conference or virtual show can never deliver the same amount of interaction, socializing and networking between visitors, speakers and exhibitors as a physical event does.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, when you’re not writing about electronics?
This summer a lot of my spare time will be filled with watching football. I like football! But during the year I am not normally not too fanatic about it, unless there is a major tournament. Then – according to my wife – I get completely mad and spend hours and hours with watching not only all matches, but also all the pre- and post-match reports. Of course I am supporting the German team which normally gets quite far in the World Cup – normally as far as playing against Italy. Then we always loose. But I am sure this year it will be different.