TechTarget – 20 Years Later: Great Content Is Still the Key

Kelley Damore

Chief Content Officer

technology buying contentAs TechTarget celebrates its 20th anniversary, let me take you back to 1999. The technology industry was booming with dot-coms and brimming with new print publications, such as The Industry Standard, Business 2.0, and Red Herring.

It was right then and there that TechTarget made a decision which would continue to fuel our business for the next 20 years. Instead of following suit with content focused on the tech industry at large, TechTarget launched specialized online sites focused solely on the technology buyer. The founding editors understood that IT staffs had a dizzying array of technology options but weren’t getting the information they needed when it came to making technology buying decisions.

A new approach to content

At the time, most other publications’ content was more general in nature, touching on a wide variety of technologies under one site. Instead, TechTarget built individual sites for specific technologies — databases, storage, Windows, security and others. TechTarget decided to go small to go big.

technology buying content

It started with curation, explained Paul Gillin, employee number six and VP of Editorial at the time. “Yahoo was manually indexing the Web using people. Search engines were terrible and Google had just launched,” said Gillin. “Online publishing was still a novelty.”

Within two years, TechTarget was producing original technology buying content and had a team of 60 editors and 100 newsletters.

TechTarget’s coverage approach was also different. It wasn’t just about providing news, but about providing context for buyers.

“We asked ourselves why news was important to readers. While it had to be timely, we created news analysis pieces, focusing on cutting-edge technologies and why an IT pro should care,” said Mark Schlack, the subsequent SVP of Editorial who led the editorial strategy for 18 years. “This was much more important than we originally thought.”

At the same time, we decided to bolster our troubleshooting technical tips. This led to the recruitment of IT professionals and consultants as additional contributors.

Constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of technology buyers

As the market changed and online sources of information in the market proliferated, TechTarget also evolved. Yahoo lost its edge, and Google became the dominant search engine. Content was built around decision support. Editors focused on the categories of evaluating, purchasing and managing technology. Editors created content that helped readers evaluate products and technologies. They defined the technology, explained how it worked, outlined the key buying considerations, and offered troubleshooting tips for implementation and roll-out.

technology buying content

“This was an ‘Aha!’ moment. Every day there is someone doing this for the first time. There was a point when advanced technology became mainstream and users needed to optimize the technology and troubleshoot, which requires a whole different set of information. This was pretty novel,” said Schlack.

And with the understanding that some IT pros were solving a problem for the first time, content needed to help that user, no matter what point in the buyer’s journey they were in. Content teams trained on SEO best practices very early, and today we have more than 800,000 first page Google search engine results for our content.

Through the 20 years, our site footprint also expanded internationally with the acquisition of ComputerWeekly and native language sites throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America.  As technology evolves, so do our audiences. In the beginning, our readers were predominantly IT professionals. With widespread digital transformation, today our readers include line-of-business, business analysts, data scientists, IT pros and many other roles and functions. Today, 40% of our readers are line-of-business executives who want to leverage technology to solve a business problem.

Looking ahead to a bright future

As we look to the next 20 years, we’ll continue to cover emerging technologies, offer myriad content types and help readers thoroughly understand technology options. We will continue to expand our use of data and buyer activity analysis, to give readers the most pertinent information at the right time to support their critical technology purchase decisions.

Industry Standard and Business 2.0 are a distant memory, all having folded after the dot-com bust in 2001 and broad, general publications in every industry continue to struggle. Twenty years later, TechTarget has never been stronger. We continue to evolve, serving reader needs today and anticipating tomorrow all while staying true to our mission of putting the technology buyer first.

View this video to learn more about how great content continues to drive better insight into what buyers really need.

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