CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: PROFILE - YEHUDA SHAPIRO. Brand connoisseur says FT.com’s enhanced archive will sell the site. The head of marketing at FT.com outlines its offline ad strategy to Mairi Clark

For all the talk of massive growth on the internet, you can still count on two hands the number of new-media companies that have grasped the nettle and advertised offline.

For all the talk of massive growth on the internet, you can still

count on two hands the number of new-media companies that have grasped

the nettle and advertised offline.



Among them - as of last month - is FT.com and the man responsible for

the press campaign is its head of marketing, Yehuda Shapiro.



Shapiro, a former Young & Rubicam account man, is one of those marketers

who wears his allegiance to his brand like a badge. Brandishing an FT

pen, he enthuses about the importance of the FT.com site to its users

and talks at length about the FT brand.



Happily, his enthusiasm would appear to be infectious. Since Shapiro

joined at the start of last year, the site’s audience has more than

doubled.



At the end of 1997, it was being used by 680,000 registered users; one

year on, nearly one-and-a-half million users were registered. And this

figure is increasing at a rate of 25,000 new ’sign-ons’ a week.



The Internet Hot 100 ranks FT.com as the number one European site for

business news and finance and it is the top revenue earner among all UK

sites, taking pounds 1.1 million from advertisers in the six months to

August 1998, according to Fletcher Research’s annual survey, UK

Banners.



But there’s one source of revenue that - unlike its great rival, The

Wall Street Journal - the FT has yet to tap: online subscriptions. The

Wall Street Journal’s site, www.wsj.com, has a much smaller user-base of

250,000, but all these people pay dollars 59 (pounds 37) a year - making

for potential revenue of over pounds 9 million.



So how long can FT.com resist the temptation to introduce

subscriptions?



Shapiro won’t divulge when, or even if, it will go down the Journal’s

route. But it is already dipping a toe in the water with the new global

archive, which has been live since the end of 1998.



Previously, the archive only covered FT material, but the new version

offers access to some 3.5 million items from an international library of

more than 3,000 news sources. Users can access the past month’s FT

articles for free, but there is a dollars 1.50 charge to view the full

text of articles sourced from other publications.



Shapiro believes this will make the site more accessible to new

users.



’Eighty per cent of our users are not daily FT readers, but FT.com is a

different product with a different readership,’ he says. ’We hope to

attract middle-management and small company users who will set up

’pay-as-you-go’ accounts for their entire company.’



Shapiro is pinning his hopes on the archive and this is one of the

reasons behind the press campaign, which has been running in specialist

business magazines such as Director and Management Today. ’I’m not out

to be an evangelist for the web,’ he says, ’but I do want people to see

that FT.com is complementary to the paper - just a bit more cheeky and

tabloidy.’



’Tabloidy’ is the last word you’d use to describe the 38-year-old

Shapiro, who has a reputation for designer tastes and an obsession with

Italy.



South African by birth, Shapiro came to Britain with his family at the

age of two and grew up in West Sussex. A linguist, he studied French and

German at Oxford, and has since mastered Spanish and Italian.



Shapiro joined Y&R straight from university, working on the Oil of Ulay

account. ’I was second only to the Cadbury account men when it came to

the agency girls,’ he boasts. ’My drawers were always stocked full of

moisturiser.’



At the agency he worked under Tom Bury, Ogilvy & Mather’s former deputy

chairman. Bury remembers his former charge as ’exceptionally gracious

and terribly well-mannered’ though ’you wouldn’t say he was destined for

success.’



Bury explains: ’He was one of those people who would be a brilliant

wicket-keeper. You never really notice them simply because they never

make a mistake’.



Shapiro didn’t really enjoy agency life and, after a year, he left to

work in the music industry, before taking the plunge into new media in

1995.



Revelling in his job at the FT, he is clear about his aims there and

thinks he knows how he will achieve them. ’The Wall Street Journal’s

site is generally assumed to be our arch-rival, but the majority of its

users are in America. In the US, we are the big non-American business

and news provider, but we’re the top European site.



’I want to get bosses saying ’I want people in my company to use FT.com

if they’re going to use the web’. I think the archive will achieve

that.’



THE SHAPIRO FILE



1982: Young & Rubicam, account executive



1983: Decca International, languages editor



1986: Deutsche Grammophon at Polygram Classics, press and promotions

manager



1988: EMI Classics, promotions and communications manager



1993: Virgin Retail Europe, continental Europe, marketing director



1995: Freelance marketing consultant



1998: FT.com, head of marketing.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).