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Archive for Publishing Case Studies

Publishing Case Studies are written by the Mequoda Research Team and focus on today’s top online publishers.

Case studies include in-depth interviews and careful analysis of publishers’ business practices. Out of each case study, we try to bring you the successes and failures of certain practices and tests. From these case studies, we hope you’ll learn more about what your colleagues are doing, but more importantly, what’s working and not working in the industry.

In this section, you’ll find case studies written on the best and worst practicing online publishers in the industry. If you have something to share about a strategy that works (or doesn’t) within your company, contact Chris Sturk at

Free Download: Learn the seven strategies that all successful special-interest online publishers have in common by downloading our FREE Seven Online Publishing Secrets white paper today.

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Jewelry Making Daily Publishing Case Study: Interweave Launches Another Online Community with its Proven Content Marketing Strategy

A Google keyword visibility strategy and valuable, highly targeted content are fundamental to this experienced online publishing enterprise

If you have ever doubted the value of keyword research and search engine optimization, consider the enviable success of Interweave, a unit of Aspire Media. It’s one of the nation’s largest and most respected arts and craft media companies, with businesses in magazine and book publishing, online media, television and video programming, directories and events.

Interweave’s extensive Internet network of more than 30 websites and eight online communities, which includes some of the most popular art- and craft-enthusiast destinations on the web, recently added a community for anyone interested in creating handmade jewelry.   Continue

Capitol Information Group Embraces Content-Driven Search and Internet Marketing Strategy launched with an experienced publishing team and an internet marketing strategy comprised of legacy content from   Continue

Vida y Salud – One Million Unique Users in Under 10 Months

A story of health, wellness and success

Pottery Making Gets Creative Online with Blogging

Jennifer Harnetty is the managing editor of, an online community serving active potters and ceramic artists worldwide   Continue

Wall Street Journal Media Pyramid Case Study

Does this legacy publisher translate from print to online?
With so many newspapers going out of business, how has the Wall Street Journal not only survived but thrived?   Continue

Meet a B2B Multi-Platform Content Rock Star

Effective digital media strategy means building a multi-platform content Mequoda Media Pyramid is a Mequoda “best practice” multiplatform publisher, and its creator, Bob Brady, has been setting a standard for excellence and innovation since before we coined the term “Mequoda.”

TripAdvisor is #1 on our List of Top Travel Sites

How builds brand loyalty by interacting with their community   Continue

Real Simple Mequoda Media Brand Study

Little was simple about the launch of Real Simple back in 2000, but after about a year and a half of tweaking, Real Simple hit its stride. Within the first few years, the magazine became profitable, and that gave the publisher an opportunity to see what else the brand could do for its readers.

One of the first places they expanded in was in books, which go deeper into a subject area. They now boast a syndicated newspaper column, a relationship with XM radio, a TV program on PBS, physical products like home office accessories and live events.   Continue

The Motley Fool Media Network Case Study

The Motley Fool uses its powerful brand to launch seven successful print newsletters for personal investors that will generate $22M in 2005 revenues. Traditional advertising-driven Internet business model takes a back seat.

After the 2001 dot-com stock market crash occurred, The Motley Fool was forced to change its online business model. The years of generating more than $20 million in advertising revenue were long gone, much like the employees who suffered layoffs. They abandoned the advertising model for the print subscription model and today are succeeding handsomely. The Fool’s first print investment newsletter The Motley Fool Stock Advisor (launched as a partnership with Phillips Investment Resources) proved to be very popular and profitable. Its success has now spawned the launch of six more print titles, making The Motley Fool a major player in the paid subscription content business.   Continue

Martha Stewart Mequoda Media Brand Study

Beyond being a mere household name, Martha Stewart has become synonymous with home decorating, cooking and gardening—bringing beauty to all things domestic. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc (MSLO), is an integrated media company distributing the “art of everyday living” to us in many different channels.

All these channels circle and promote each other, as Martha talks about her paint color used in the kitchen on her show, advertisers buy across the media outlets, content can be re-purposed in books and DVDs, and so on.   Continue

Fine Woodworking Mequoda Media Brand Case Study

Taunton’s Fine Woodworking launched in 1975 as a black-and-white quarterly, followed by books on woodworking.

A few years ago, they started publishing special newsstand editions, which they now do seven times a year. Most are created from repurposed content from the magazine.

They have been producing video for 20 years and with the advent of DVDs, finally turned a profit on their video content. They also have a membership website at

They are now putting more emphasis on the advertising component and plan to use the same multiplatform model (or a variation of it) for their other brands

A few years ago, they started publishing special newsstand editions, which they now do seven times a year. Most are created from repurposed content from the magazine.

They have been producing video for 20 years and with the advent of DVDs, finally turned a profit on their video content. They also have a membership website at   Continue

Amazon Catalog Marketing Website Case Study Bigger IS Better

Size may not always matter, but being big certainly does matter (and always has) to After all, the company’s mission is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company—a place where people can find anything they might want to buy online at the lowest possible price.” That’s a tall order in anyone’s book, a big idea that finally, after 10 budget-busting years, has brought big success. The company behind what may be the most recognized brand on the Internet now generates billions of dollars in annual revenue and multimillions of dollars in annual profit.   Continue

Lending Tree Lead Generation Website Case Study

LendingTree: Making Matches…Making Money

Web watchers were skeptical when launched in 1998. Despite the surging use of the Internet during the 1990s, those in the know had doubts whether consumers would trust posting their financial information online. For that very reason, banking institutions, as you may recall, were among the slowest—let’s say the most careful—to transact business via the Web. Privacy issues remain, of course, but LendingTree LLC has proven that consumers are very much interested in shopping online—even for loans—and lenders, in turn, are willing to pay for those leads.   Continue

America’s Test Kitchen Mequoda Case Study

How America’s Test Kitchen’s Revenues have Grown from About $15 million to an Estimated $46 million in Just Five Years… Shouldn’t you be Using the Same Strategy for Selling your Information Products on the Internet? Doesn’t your Job Depend on it?

Chris Kimball, CEO of Boston Common Press, is master of what we now call multiplatform publishing. Chris has gone from a publishing a single cooking magazine, Cook’s Illustrated to a growing media empire that spans books, another print magazine, books, membership websites, a TV Show on PBS, email newsletters and DVDs.   Continue Case Study

Citizen or participatory journalism, according to the experts, is the act of citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.”

So say Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis, authors of the report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information.

Bowman and Willis contend that the intent of this participation “is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.”   Continue

eHarmony Membership Website Case Study

If what we learned in Psychology 101 is true, the basic motivators of human behavior are simple: humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. You either have something you don’t want (avoidance principle) or you want something you don’t have (pleasure principle).

Psychologists tell us that everybody wants: food, shelter, health, sex, love, money and general well being. Look at every product you see advertised on the Internet or elsewhere. The ultimate reward to losing weight, finding a better job, buying a better home or car, etc., is finding intimacy with the person of your dreams—your soul mate.   Continue

Mother Earth News Media Network Case Study

Evaluating Risks and Embracing Change: How the Forward-Looking Management of Mother Earth News is Transforming a Traditional Print Magazine Publisher Into a Cutting-Edge, Online Information Provider

If your magazine and the brand it represents have survived and grown for 35 years, you might be tempted to rest on your laurels. “If it ain’t broke…” But smart publishers recognize that both the market and the medium are constantly evolving. The Internet forever changed the way thinking people consume information. It also presented new challenges and opportunities to savvy publishers and marketers.   Continue

The Daily Reckoning Mequoda Case Study

Agora Financial Network: Understanding the Seven Strategies that Drive the World’s Most Successful Special-Interest Website Network

The Mequoda Group estimates that the Agora Financial Network will post top-line revenues for 2006 of $55 million, with $41 million being generated online. This makes each of its 500,000 domestic subscribers worth about $82.   Continue

Book Reporter Media Network Case Study

Following the Passion

When you’re passionate about something, you want to know everything there is to know about it, according to Carol Fitzgerald, president of The Book Report Network. She explains, for example, that she fell in love with Simon & Garfunkel when she was 13 years old. She learned a little about the duo’s background previous recordings from the back notes of her “Bookends” album cover. But passion drove her to the microfiche at her local library, where she pored over clippings and articles about the men and their music.   Continue

IMDb Media Network Case Study

Internet Movie Database: The screen’s big scene

By its own declaration, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is a HUGE collection of movie information. Its database catalogs every pertinent detail about a movie — which actors were in it, who produced and directed it, filming locations for it, trivia about it, even where you can find reviews and fan sites elsewhere on the web. IMDb presents all that information and more in a manner that is easily accessible and searchable. In fact, IMDb is the Web’s most comprehensive, authoritative, and, best of all, free source of information on movies and the film industry. It’s a favorite of hardcore film fans, industry professionals, random moviegoers, and trivia aficionados — all of whom appreciate a serious resource that can also be fun. So grab some popcorn and settle in. It’s show time!   Continue Brand Marketing Website Case Study, a Very Successful Brand Site, Chose a Target Audience, Explored the Audience’s Needs, Determined Their Own Business Goals, and Designed a Smash Hit of a Site

The first question everyone asks: “Why would anyone go to” This is because we mostly think of the Web as a distribution vehicle. We think of ordering books at Amazon, or reading content at CNN, or downloading music from MTV. How do you drink a soda on a computer screen?   Continue

Forbes Internet Hub Case Study

How They Created the World’s Number One Business Website

We’ve been taught that successful website publishing in 2005 means creating happy users and healthy profits. With 10.3 million worldwide unique visitors per month, I think it’s fair to say that has done just that.   Continue

Forbes Media Network Mequoda Case Study

Creating the World’s Most Popular Website for Entrepreneurial Capitalists

With 2006 revenues estimated at more than $510 million, up from an estimated $460 million for 2005, the newly formed Forbes Media Network is on a roll.

Forbes Media currently includes print, online conferences, radio and TV properties. At this time, an estimated $330 million still comes from the American edition of Forbes Magazine, however, senior executives Steve Forbes and Jim Spanfeller both tell Mequoda that online publishing revenues will pass print in 2008 or 2009—if the current growth rates for both print (up 6% for 2006) and online (up 57% for 2006) hold for 2007, 2008 and 2009.   Continue

The Goals Guy Media Network Case Study

Selling Goal-Setting and Motivational Information to a Niche Market of Nascent Planners and High Achievers: The Goals Guy Thrives with Laser-like Focus on Creating Quality Digital Products, Superior Search Engine Optimization and Smart Strategic Alliances

Gary Ryan Blair is a serious strategic planner. His personal philosophy can be summarized in two words: Everything Counts!™ Blair believes in sweating the small stuff, and teaches that every action, word and thought either moves you toward or away from your goals, mission and ultimate legacy—that every moment offers an opportunity for advancement or retreat.   Continue Classified Website Case Study

eBay: People, Places, and Lots of Things

Just as the Internet was blossoming in the mid-90s, software engineer Pierre Omidyar established the world’s first online auction site for mostly personal reasons. His fiancée (now wife) Pam—an avid collector of PEZ™ candy dispensers—was having difficulty finding other collectors with whom she could trade. Sitting in his living room in San Jose, California, Omidyar solved her dilemma—and that of millions of other collectors and traders in years to come. He created eBay.   Continue

Ask the Builder Mequoda Media Brand Case Study

Tim Carter started as a building contractor and decided one day to tell homeowners about remodeling and residential construction by writing a newspaper column. The column started in 1993 and continues today. In 1998, he launched

In addition to that column, Carter expanded Ask the Builder’s reach into radio, television and the Internet. He now sells ebooks, DVDs, sample blueprints, bid sheets and house plans.

He uses the Web as the nexus to sell all those products and relies on the Google Adsense program to generate lots of advertising revenue.   Continue

The Wall Street Journal’s Publishing Case Study

The Wall Street Journal’s website,, has achieved incredible success by selling print subscriptions online while simultaneously selling subscriptions to their online product. As a result, they are a great example of how to sell millions of dollars in subscriptions from one website. After perusing their site, we have identified seven marketing lessons to be learned from If your online publication can manage to follow at least five of the seven lessons well, you should be able to increase print subscription sales from your website.   Continue

Beer Business Daily Membership Website Case Study

How copyright enforcement threats, simple site license pricing and credit card auto-renewals drive BeerNet’s online subscription revenue growth while maintaining an impressive 90 percent annual retention rate

Harry Schuhmacher is a former beer distributor, an accomplished online journalist and a savvy marketer of his information products. He founded BeerNet Communications, Inc., in 1997 and today is the editor and publisher of two sharply focused newsletters about the beer industry, Beer Business Daily and Beer Distributor Monthly.   Continue Internet Marketing Case Study

PC World Makes OFIEs Work by Giving Them Prominent Placement Near Editorial, Making an Email Address Optional and Offering Plenty of Premiums

OFIEs, “Order Forms in Editorial” are embedded subscription forms. They are placed in unused space at the bottom of webpages and, when used to generate subscriptions to a companion print magazine, churn thousands of new orders per year at virtually no cost. PC World is a perfect example. “Our website ( is our most profitable new business source for the magazine,” says Shawne Pecar, vice president of consumer marketing at PC World.   Continue

America’s Test Kitchen Media Network Case Study

Boston Common Press, the Publishing Company that Produces PBS TV Show America’s Test Kitchen, Uses the Show’s Viewership to Drive Traffic to its Free Website, Building a Large Database in Which They Market Their Various Print and Online Products

America’s Test Kitchen is a weekly television show on local PBS stations, but it is more than just a cooking show. The TV program and its companion website,, serve as the hub of a well-designed network for Boston Common Press, which produces the show. The program directs the show’s 2.9 million viewers to, where, by requiring registration, the company builds an enormous permission-driven database in to which they market their various products. This strategy makes America’s Test Kitchen one of the most successful practitioners of the Mequoda Network that we have found.   Continue

Computerworld Mequoda Case Study

Online Revenues for Computerworld US Now Account for Over 35 Percent of their Total US Publishing Revenue

This Computerworld Mequoda Case Study is derived from one-on-one interviews with Pat McGovern, IDG’s founder and Robert Carrigan, the CEO of US Operations. It outlines Computerworld’s story from the beginning, and explores how they’re making such a successful shift into the digital world of publishing.

As a way to introduce where IDG and Computerworld stands today, we thought we’d share excerpts from a recent blog post by Colin Crawford, IDG’s Senior Vice President, Online.   Continue

FDAnews Mequoda Case Study

By refocusing on its core business, this special interest B-to-B publisher has increased revenues four fold since 2000, deriving 80 percent of its new business from online marketing.

FDAnews is the premier provider of domestic and international regulatory, legislative and business news and information for executives in industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are numerous “80/20 rules” that business people quote to explain the relationship between effort and results. One 80/20 rule says that 80 percent of your sales are derived from 20 percent of your customers. Another says that 80 percent of your revenue is derived from 20 percent of your products.   Continue

HBSP Virtual Seminar Product Marketing Website Case Study

When the blowout of the U.S. economy a few years ago resulted in a decline in business travel, which was further affected by a general fear of travel triggered by 9/11, Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP) sought a way to reach its audience with material that it would otherwise present in a traditional, in-person conference setting. Thus began the Harvard Business School Publishing Virtual Seminar, a continuing series of interactive presentations, featuring pre-eminent speakers, on timely business management topics. And, according to Eric McNulty, Managing Director of Conferences at HBSP, the seminars have turned a profit since the very first one launched in July 2002.   Continue

Consumer Reports Membership Website Case Study

With 1.6 million paid subscribers, has more paid subscribers than any other publication-based website.

That may not be a huge surprise considering their print magazine has a paid circulation of 4.1 million and growing. Yet we can’t help but wonder, while so many other magazine publishers are still so confused about their Internet publishing model, how has Consumer Reports been so clear from the very beginning?   Continue

Amazon Affiliate Marketing Case Study

How to Make Money Selling Other People’s Books

Many of the best affiliates of are losing opportunities to make money. Poor navigation on their web sites and lack of attention to crucial details is preventing them from reaching their potential as moneymakers. Of the sites we reviewed, there are those that are doing outstandingly well, some who are gliding along, and others who are falling way behind. With a few critical changes, these sites could begin earning top dollar as affiliates.   Continue

Fodors Travel Mequoda Case Study

Venerable guidebook publisher, an early adopter of the Web, continues to refine its Internet strategy. Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, Inc., has been recognized as the premier guidebook publisher for more than 70 years. Today, the Fodor’s Travel brand exists firmly in print, online, and on mobile devices. Fodor’s target audience is what Publisher Tim Jarrell calls “age 25-plus travelers who are interested in attainable luxury.” The huge array of print guidebooks and the website are resources that the Fodor’s audience uses to discover the best places within their budget to stay, eat, shop, and explore.   Continue

MediaBistro Media Network Makeover Case Study

Laurel Touby started MediaBistro in 1997 in the dot-com heyday with the goal of creating a community for journalists. “We weren’t really sure how we were going to make money,” she confesses, “we just wanted to bring media people together.” While this may not sound like an auspicious mission for a profitable business, MediaBistro has developed some very profitable income streams, all of which flow from this community, and all of which provide content models easily adopted by traditional publishers.   Continue

Case study: America Cooks

In mid-summer, Sara Campbell and the editors of America Cooks decided to run a Christmas cookie contest; the winning recipes would be featured in the December issue. The call for recipes went out via her website (a well-done Mequoda Internet Hub) and a free email newsletter.   Continue

University Health Publishing Internet Hub Case Study

The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health After 50 is the Springboard for University Health Publishing’s Expansion From a Single Independent Print Newsletter to a Network of 26 Branded Consumer Health Information Products   Continue

WSJ Membership Website Case Study

Skillful Leveraging of Brand, Strategic Site Design and Continuous Attention to the Balance of Traffic to Gated Content Has Contributed to the Market-Leading Position Currently Enjoyed by The Wall Street Journal   Continue

SSWUG Membership Website Case Study, a subscription website that provides an astonishing amount of technical information for database administrators, uses three levels of membership to secure loyal, paying customers.   Continue

Three Things Harvard Can Teach You For Free

A Harvard Business School (HBS) education doesn’t come cheap. But if you are willing to do a bit of detective work, and forgo the actual “sheepskin” of a diploma, there are a few lessons you can learn from HBS—absolutely free. We spent the past few weeks wandering the pages of to see what the finest business minds of the country could teach us about subscription websites. We had testers subscribe to the Harvard Business Review, peruse the general and educator sections of the site, and browse the extensive catalog of books and online courses and this was what we found. While many of Harvard Business School Publishers’ online subscription marketing practices were on par with other successful sites we’ve reviewed, there were three particular areas where HBSP successfully maneuvered challenges often mishandled in other subscription sites. We thought these lessons were important to bring to your attention.   Continue

Red 7 Media Internet Hub Case Study

The folks at Red 7 Media understand that readers consume information in a variety of ways—in print, online, and in person. “Therefore,” says Editor and Publisher Tony Silber, “it’s our job to come up with a variety of marketing techniques that will work for our advertisers.”   Continue

Variety Careers Classified Website Case Study

Online job advertising represents a steadily increasing share of the job recruitment industry, with a rate of revenue growth in 2004 that far exceeded that of traditional print classifieds. In October 2004, Reed Business Information (RBI) launched its own branded job recruitment site, called VarietyCareers, and expects to make a significant impact on this burgeoning industry in the market segments that it knows best—media and entertainment.   Continue

Yoga Journal DVD Product Marketing Website Case Study

Some 16.5 million Americans—or 7.5 percent of all adults in the United States—are yoga practitioners, and another 25 million people expect to try yoga within the next 12 months, according to the results of a second annual “Yoga in America” study recently conducted by Yoga Journal. And most yoga is practiced at home. To make quality information on yoga accessible to those folks or to those who may have special issues that are not addressed in a yoga class‚—and to tap even deeper into the $3 billion yoga market—Yoga Journal has created a series of videos and DVDs that are jumping off the shelves.   Continue