If I only had a dollar for every time somebody visited my site ...

MidCurrent founder Marshall Cutchin recently announced that his site hit 1,000,000 yearly visits in April (as measured by Google Analytics). According to Marshall, the site has been the largest fly fishing media channel in the world for more than two years, with traffic in the past twelve months growing by an additional 42%.

What did you do to celebrate your 1,000,000th hit on MidCurrent?

Can I be honest? I spent the day wondering why our Alexa numbers were so out of whack in the first quarter.

But perhaps you were looking for something more along the lines of: "It was still a 12-hour day, it just went a little faster."

One million sure sounds like a lot, anyway. Does that mean you are officially legit in the online space? Or is there still work to do?

We have a market reach that's five times that of Fly Fisherman or any other fly fishing print media (comparing uniques to rate bases) and about twice that of any thing else online. So if you think of it in terms of relative positioning/popularity/impact, we'd probably qualify as legit. Of course in the fly fishing marketing "universe" numbers like one million sound like a lot, but as Web media goes, we're small. It's more important to me that we reach the "right" million visitors -- the new visitors and the ones who depend on us to perform a service for them.

How do you know if they're the "right" million? Or, more importantly, how do advertisers know?

Click-through rates/conversions and brand reinforcement. For example, click-through rates on social media channels are among the lowest, and click-through rates on niche content sites can be among the highest. So CPMs on Facebook might be valued fairly at less than $1, while Forbes might be able to command $30 or even $50 CPMs in their premium online positions, given their brand strength and conversion rates. Strong brand environment results in the ad publisher being able to pass along its credibility to an advertiser's landing page -- so click-throughs result in longer time-on-site, higher per session value and lifetime customer value. Lots of companies -- though only a few in the fly fishing space -- measure all that. Even if our advertisers aren't tracking it that closely, we want to be sure we come out on top on all those scores.

And to answer your question directly, it never ends, it only gets more challenging with growth.

It sounds like an awful lot of work and big words. Do you still get to fish?

I wish there were smaller words to use too. I still sneak out early in the morning to catch tarpon when my schedule isn't nightmarish.

Was there ever a plan to have a print version of MidCurrent?

If the market wants it, we'll deliver it at some point. My own background is in print, so it seems like a natural way to reach those we can't reach online: smaller, less-connected audiences.

That's an odd twist, don't you think? A future where digital revenue subsidizes the print operation?

It's quite ironic, but I think the writing was on the wall when print brands started to weaken because of their resistance to online delivery. Consumers are vetting information in entirely different ways than they were just two years ago, and the change is accelerating, so it would be very hard -- or prohibitively expensive --to catch up at this point. You can point to media companies, e.g. ESPN, who have more or less kept up, but very few who started in print.

By the way, when I told my magazine publishing friends a few years back that one day magazines would be a "companion" to a Web site, they chuckled. Many magazine publishers today still seem to think that the Web is an interesting but unknowable medium.

LINK: Midcurrent

1 comment:

  1. Good interview. The title is right on the money (no pun intended). I think that there is a certain risk in trading print for online, which the founder seems to implicitly recognize. A big part of that risk is trading dollars for pennies. The dollars of the print world revenue model for the pennies of the online world revenue model. I'll bet that one million online monthly visits brings in revenue nowhere near what one million old world media visitors brings. Also fair to say that the costs of online content should be substantially smaller, perhaps even inline with the smaller revenue.
    Times they are a changin', but the money still needs to flow.