OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Roger Green - Emap Online chief Roger Green has cyber savvy, discovers Mark Tungate

This is an important year for Emap Online. For one thing, Emap chairman Robin Miller has demanded the division break even for the first time.

This is an important year for Emap Online. For one thing, Emap

chairman Robin Miller has demanded the division break even for the first


For another, Emap’s digital interests are being closely scrutinised by

the City, following the company’s pledge to pump an extra pounds 30

million into its internet ventures, of which Emap Online is the most


Not that Roger Green seems particularly worried. After all, Emap

Online’s managing director became convinced that the internet could

deliver long ago.

’I remember the first time somebody asked if I’d heard of this new thing

called ’the internet’,’ he recalls. ’I hadn’t, but when it was explained

I began to have an inkling of its potential.’

Even then, Green was hardly techno-illiterate. He began his career in

1976 as a staff writer on Computing. In 1982 at Emap he founded PC User,

the first European publication on the subject. And in 1994 he launched

another ground-breaking title, Internet magazine.

Today he still looks more like a journalist than a net surfer, standing

out from the Soho designer suits in a tweedy jacket, pen in pocket. He

is undemonstrative and far from arrogant, despite having made it into

the Business Age e-business hall of fame and Revolution’s top 100 UK

new-media players.

But he also knows his strengths, and wouldn’t deny that he helped Emap

embrace the promise of the net much earlier than most of its rivals.

Emap Online started life as a division of Emap Computing - in the very

early days little more than a single machine generating web material -

but Green became confident that it could form a separate revenue


’We went to Robin Miller with the idea and although he admitted he

didn’t really understand this (internet) stuff, he agreed to go ahead

with it provided we didn’t make a loss below a certain figure. It was

quite a big gamble. In the second year our target was to halve our

losses and this year we’re expected to break even. Magazines are

supposed to be profitable during their third year, so it’s fair enough,’

he says.

Part of Green’s vision was to develop standalone web brands that weren’t

spin-offs from existing magazines (although Emap has plenty of those in

other departments, notably Emap Metro’s FHM site). The unit’s array of

sites now includes the concert ticket service aloud.com as well as


Travel is a linchpin in Green’s strategy. ’As the web has developed,

advertisers have become increasingly particular about what kind of

environment they appear in. And they realise they are more likely to get

attention on a travel site than a search engine,’ he explains.

The latest development is Escape Routes which launched simultaneously as

an Emap Online website and an Emap Elan travel magazine (Campaign Media

Business, 27 September). As well as a potential money-spinner, Green

says it will be a way of tracking adspend trends.

’It will be interesting to see in a couple of years’ time what

percentage of revenue derives from copy sales, print ads, online

transactions and online ads,’ he says.

Green may be sharp, but even he can’t predict the net’s future impact on

traditional media.

Green on internet adspend

’I think that there will be a mixture of revenue streams. Online

transactions will be important, but so will advertising. In its widest

sense, advertising is about bringing buyers and sellers together. We

will be doing that in different ways, which will benefit our customers.’


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