Literature management problems….solved!

Having held both client-side and agency-side roles, I know that sometimes it's the simple things that make marketing difficult, and that literature management is a particularly challenging problem. Even though the Internet has simplified the problem significantly, getting the right literature - both electronic and printed - to the sales channel quickly and efficiently is still a challenge. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a project to deliver a system to manage literature requests for one of our clients, helping specify some of the functionality, and was really impressed at the system created by the software company. Sales people and distributors can request printed brochures, flyers, seminar invites and other literature online, as well as downloading digital versions. The system automates the shipping process and tracks costs. The client used a company called the Dopla Group, who can deliver similar bespoke systems tailored to the needs of our industry. For more information, contact me and I'd be happy to put you in contact with the clever programmers at the Dopla Group.

Heat maps show what people see

I found a fun online tool called Feng-GUI, which claims to produce heatmaps that show where people look when presented with a screen to view. The product claims to be based on results from real eye tracking services and whilst it is not the same as an eye-tracking study, given that you can try it free on the web the price is very attractive. You simply upload a graphic file, so it can be used for ads, websites and any other marketing graphics.

I ran a couple of websites through the system. Here's the eye tracking for Napier's website:

And here's the results for


Of course one of the big drawbacks is that the system works of static images, so can't take account of any video or animation on the site. I'd be interested to hear what you think of the tool, and whether you have a project where you use it.

Call for papers - Batteries 2009

After the success of the Batteries show in 2008, the organisers have issued a call for papers. An abstract, which should be sent as a pdf file to &, is due by 30th January 2009.

What's new in mobile?

Laurence Marchini, former Editor of Electronics Express and Electronicstalk and proof that editors can work remotely (he edited UK-based Electronicstalk from Australia!) has teamed with Stuart Willett and Ian Channing to launch What's New In Mobile. The site isn't yet up and running - it will be launched in February 2009 to coincide with 3GSM - but I'd expect a similar approach to Electronicstalk, with wide coverage releases about mobile communications.

In addition to display ads, the site will offer advertorials that include longer stories, and multimedia content, such as additional photography, slide shows and even video.

Interestingly the site promises to cover topics “from chipsets to handsets – and beyond”, with product coverage including components and Antennae.

As always it is great to see launches of new media that cover our industry. Having just written a post about the launch of Medtronic Journal, I'm more than ever convinced that vertical titles offer the best opportunities for publishers over the next year or so. Hopefully this site will make money, and I'll be interested to see how What's New in Mobile manages to differentiate the free editorial and paid-for advertorial. This approach of offering photos in editorial, with payment for longer articles and multimedia seems like a great model for today, although it may be a challenge to position video as "premium content" in a 2 to 3 years time.

New medical technology journal

Beam Verlag, publishers of a number of electronics titles including HF Praxis and RF & Wireless Europe, launched >Meditronic Journal in October. The magazine focuses on the development of medical electronic equipment, providing an ideal vehicle for promoting to one of the few end markets that is still growing. Published in German, the title has a reletively modest distribution of 4000, but if it is managed as well as the other Beam titles, the circulation is likely to be well targeted. It's always good to see new titles being launched, and I suspect that like Meditronic Journal, most new launches over the next couple of years will address specific vertical niches.

Napier News policy on comments

I thought it might be a good idea to publish my policy on approving and removing comments to ensure everyone understands my approach. You can view the policy here.

SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2008 breaks records

Despite the poor economy, the SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2008 show attracted 48,105 visitors, more than any previous year. I'm amazed that the organisers can deliver an increased number of visitors, and really pleased to see the show continue to grow. The even attracted 1,386 exhibitors, as well as running the comprehensive conference programme of presentations and tutorials.

The event will be held next year from 24th to 26th November 2009 at the Nuremberg exhibition centre.

SupplyFrame signs Nick Walker

Nick Walker has been signed as the SupplyFrame sales representative for Europe. SupplyFrame claims to be "the largest and fastest growing content and advertising network dedicated to the information needs of design engineers and procurement professionals in the electronics industry." Their traffic figures are certainly impressive, but the most shocking thing is how they have "got" the importance of promoting traffic figures whereas the large publishers seem to be way behind (I hate to point this out, but seems to want to hide their figures, and if you go to, the figures for the US site are somewhat unhelpfully from April 2007!). partners with Elektroniktidningen

It was good to see the guys at choose Elektroniktidningen's sales force to sell advertising on the site. It's a perfect vehicle for promoting EDA tools, FPGAs and ASICs, and I'm sure that the partnership will boost funding to expand this innovative site.

Online translation service detects language automatically

I've always been quick to point out the problems with machine translation, but still use services such as Babelfish for "gisting" (getting the gist of something written in another language). I'm now moving to use Frengly, simply because it will cleverly detect the source language.

Like all of these services, it can be very useful, but won't be worrying our team of more than 30 translators - a quick test translation revealed that at the start of the year IDT "announced that the first PCIe ® switch in the industry family samples that are tailored to the requirements connection the data and control plane of sophisticated communications applications tailored".

In a way the poor quality of automatic translations is a good thing - it makes me feel much better about my somewhat limited abilities to speak French and German!

The future according to Chris Edwards

I really liked this presentation about the future of our industry that Chris has recently posted to slideshare. It's a great overview of the technological challenges facing the industry that is presented in a way that non-engineers can understand.

IET editor wins award

I often feel that the technical B2B magazines are under-rated by people outside of the industry. But here's some good news: Dickon Ross, editor of the IET magazine E&T, has been named Editor of the Year at the prestigious British Society of Magazine Editors Awards. Dickon has done a great job at the IET, and he launched and still edits Flipside, a magazine that aims to excite children (including my young son that loves the title) about engineering.

It's great to see a editor in our industry recognised with an award, and I'm particularly pleased to see Dickon win as he is an editor with a great record of radical innovations as well as driving continuous improvement.

Quick guide to Google Adwords

I saw this neat little article covering the "Ten Mistakes You Can't Afford To Make With Google Adwords" and although it's not technically about the European electronics media, I thought it would be great information for any Napier News readers considering starting a Google PPC campaign.

Another nice article on the site discusses the accuracy of email open rates - something I have spent a lot of time looking at with clients as although it's nice to get precise numbers, often the open rate doesn't reflect the number of people reading the email.

Google SearchWiki says beta is uncool

Google launched the "SearchWiki" feature last week, which enables you to promote results for searches or eliminate sites from future search results. I see this as a big deal for anyone in marketing: although you can get access to other people's comments, I think the main use for this tool will be as a way of assessing the effectiveness of Google's algorithm. I am sure that the engineers at Google will be tweaking their search algorithms to match the results users are creating manually with the new buttons.

An additional development is the ability to comment on sites. You can also see others' comments (although this is a couple of clicks away).

What does this mean to anyone involved in marketing? Well almost any innovation is seen by spammers as an opportunity, and the comments are no exception: TechCrunch has already highlighted the problem of spam comments on their search results. Also I'm sure that there are people madly clicking on particular companies' results to promote them and try and boost their position on natural searches (although hopefully the engineers at Google are smart enough to filter this activity out). Finally by not slapping the ubiquitous "beta" badge on the feature, maybe Google is signalling that for online sites, Beta is no longer cool!

Penwell to launch new photovoltaics publication

PennWell will launch the new bimonthly publication Photovoltaics World in March 2009. The launch ties in with the announcement that they will also run Photovoltaics World Exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe beginning in 2010. The new exhibitions will be held in conjunction with the company’s existing Renewable Energy World Conferences & Exhibitions.

The move is clearly logical - Penwell have a strong portfolio of related titles, including Solid State Technology and Renewable Energy World, and the extension of the existing shows makes sense. If photovoltaics do grow as quickly as some analysts predict, then this will be a very successful launch. Living in England, however, what I really want is more research on capturing the energy of falling raindrops!

Batteries booming!

Despite the general gloom, BATTERIES 2008 saw a 25% growth in attendance this year, and will be moving to CANNES-MANDELIEU Congress Centre in 2009. It's great to see that some areas of technology continue to grow through innovative product and technology developments, and that the conference organisers are also benefiting from this expansion.

Domain name nightmare

Licencing of titles to allow publishers to produce local versions of magazines is surprisingly common, but not without difficulty. We did feel sorry for Incisive Media, publishers of the UK version of CRN (Computer Reseller News). Unfortunately CMP (who originated the CRN brand) kept hold of the rights to the UK domain, so if you visit, you land on CMP's American ChannelWeb site. To get to the UK CRN site you now need to visit, which takes you to Incisive Media's UK-based CRN-branded site. Confused? I'm sure many readers are!

Future Horizons seminar

Probably only for the brave, Future Horizons will be dissecting the troubled electronics industry and the impact of the economy at their Industry Forecast Briefing Seminar 2009, to be held on 27th January 2009 at the Kensington Close Hotel, London.

PC Magazine stops print version

Despite the recent launch of Power Systems Design North America, the print industry is continuing to delcline in the USA. I was sad to see PC Magazine stop its print edition, although it is great to see that ZD will continue to publish a digital magazine as well as offering the website. I'm convinced this is the way forward for many magazines, and personally I expect to see at least one European electronics title move to publishing only in digital format during the current economic downturn.

A picture takes as much bandwidth as 1000 words?

I was interested to see a couple of editors (Chris Edwards and Graham Pitcher) discussing the problems of receiving image attachments with press releases. Of course most office connections have great bandwidth, but when editors are travelling and desperately trying to post a story over a 3G connection then receiving 100 JPEGs might not be helpful. At Napier we've always tried to send releases in the format that editors prefer with our own in-house database software, and when we checked fortunately we found that we don't send either images with their releases! For more information about how we manage our PR distribution (and to tell me if you are getting releases in the wrong format) send me an email.

TechInsights merges ESE and ESDE

TechInsights has surprised no one by announcing that they will merge Embedded System Engineering and Embedded Systems Design Europe to create Embedded Systems Europe, a title with a circulation of over 20,000. Interestingly they have also decided to extend the brand by launching I do sometimes wonder how much sense it makes to segregate the engineering community on geography as vertical segmentation seems to make much more sense, but as TechInsights also offers such a comprehensive range of vertical DesignLines, I guess I can't complain! The website will also help drive a weekly email newsletter with 18,000 circulation.

The website and the magazine will have a close tie with ESC UK, the Embedded Systems Show, which has recently switched venue to Farnborough.

Phil Ling will edit Embedded Systems Europe, with Colin Holland appointed as Editor-in-Chief across all the European Embedded titles, which makes this an incredibly strong and well-respected team.

Cassidy Publications to launch online titles

It's great to see new publications launch in our industry, and to see three new titles announced from a new publishing company is fabulous. Cassidy Publications has announced the following online titles:

  • Wave ISM will launch in January 2009, focusing on license-free wireless technology, addressing everything from semiconductors and modules to standards and testing
  • Linker-Locator will launch in the first quarter of 2009, focusing on embedded software development. This resource is sure to be appreciated by embedded software engineers who have few publications that focus exclusively on their needs
  • Modularity in design is the third publication, also planned for launch in the first quarter of 2009. This publication will focus on the use of pre-configured modules in embedded development
  • I hope that this new venture is successful. Cassidy Publications has identified gaps that are not filled by existing publications, rather than trying to simply chase the biggest advertising budgets. It's interesting to see that by focusing on the reader, Cassidy Publications has actually created publications that will also have strong appeal to many suppliers (who will presumably become advertisers!), and hopefully this will ensure the success of all of these new online titles.

    Is charging for images a good source of income for websites?

    I was impressed with the redesign of when I wrote about it in October, but I've been disappointed with their approach to posting images. Electronicstalk are asking for £120.00 to publish each image to accompany releases. Although releases with images are more likely to be included in the featured articles box on the home page, it's difficult to see the value in paying for the image. With the current layout the images are unlikely to drive a significant increase in traffic, and if a potential customer arrives at the page, they are probably interesting in the product features and there is no need to catch the eye of the reader. I can understand online publishers looking for new revenue streams, but without any guarantee of better promotion of the story, this doesn't seem to be an approach that will see widespread adoption.

    E&E discovers the fascination of electronics

    According to Plato, "Necessity is the mother of invention," and this probably applies to E&E, who are relaunching the magazine after disappointing results in the AgLa readership study. Although Publish Industry tell me that they were planning a relaunch before the results were known, it is clear that a new approach is needed in the overcrowded German electronics magazine market.

    The biggest change is the plan to change the editorial style to focus on the fascinating aspects of electronics - through both pictures and words. articles will look at technologies, products and people within the industry, and I guess the approach could be summarised as trying to make a coffee-table electronics magazine. The magazine will also reduce frequency to 8x year, but there will be a short PDF magazine (E&E Week) distributed by email 48 times a year, covering news and products. of course the website will continue in a similar format to today, as will the annual Kompendium.

    The print publication will also be published as a "flip book" four times a year, with the back focusing on green electronics.

    Unfortunately Publish Industry has also announced that Sabine Grothe (editor) and Javor Dimitrov (advertising manager) will leave the publication, although a replacement for Javor, Saskia Albert, has already been appointed.

    So is this an inspired move, or panic? If E&E can pull it off, then I think it will be inspired. In a way the new approach is not unlike that of the IET's Engineering and Technology, a publication that many of my engineering friends read avidly. The weekly PDF magazine is a fabulous idea, and will also ensure that advertisers feel that their products get covered (which clearly won't happen as frequently in the new print format). But this is a huge challenge, and one that will be made even more difficult by changes in the advertising and editorial team. Producing 48 PDF mini-mags as well as a new format that if anything will place more pressure on the editors will definitely present a real challenge. Convincing advertisers of the completely new advertising ideas such as the spotlight photo sequence will surely require many sales conversations. Personally I hope E&E pulls it off - the electronics magazine market lacks innovation with most websites looking very similar and only a couple of magazine formats dominating the print offering. If this new approach is successful, we will have more engineers reading more magazines, which should will mean the design community becoming more knowledgeable and therefore able to design better products. Let's hope this optimistic vision can become reality!

    Congratulations to Vicor – Elektra Award winners again!

    Many congratulations to Vicor, a great client that has won an Elektra Award for the second year running. Vicor was named the winner of the Power Systems Product of the Year at the ceremony in Munich. Electronics Weekly has video clips of the winners - including Andy Gales of Vicor - collecting their awards.