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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The CNET phenomenon via Bweek

Shelby Bonnie is a man with a brand plan. The CEO of CNET Networks is betting heavily that the brand he's building in tech news and information will turn to gold as advertisers realize that the Net offers more than search-engine ads. CNET has impressive credentials - CNET ads have boosted direct referrals to Sony's (SNE ) e-commerce Web sites by 225% since the beginning of last year, according to Patrick Vogt, senior vice-president of Sony E-Solutions, the online direct-sales arm of the consumer-electronics giant. Vogt spends 30% of his annual online ad budget with CNET, a sum worth millions. What's more, referrals from CNET sites are more likely to make purchases, vs. click-throughs from other venues. "You do get a very high-quality lead when you advertise there," Vogt says. Traffic growth is also impressive. CNET claimed 76.5 million unique visitors in the first quarter of 2004, a 27% year-over-year increase. Some of that growth comes from its strength in two of the hottest areas in technology: games and consumer electronics. And News.com is the leading tech-news site on the Web in terms of traffic. In 2004, CNET won the coveted National Magazine Award for general excellence online. That, plus further hiring at News.com has quieted chatter that Bonnie would shutter or sell the news division CNET's CEO viewpoint -"As we're able to grow the top line, we can translate that into wins on the bottom line," he says. "If more people consume our news stories or read our reviews, it doesn't require much additional resources from us.Our job is to position and grow our properties to get ahead of those dollars so we're in a position to capture them over time. We have been growing our visitors and usage. We have a model that is very leveraged to translate revenue growth to the bottom line." CNET is one the sites that I regularly visit for the past several years - I could see CNET improving qualitatively year after year consistently . I firmly believe ( and hope) that CNET has a very bright future.
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