Interview With Search Marketing Standard Editor, Andrey Milyan

Search Marketing Standard is a magazine covering the search marketing industry.

When this magazine launched, it targeted a gap in the market that no one else appeared to be covering – the off-line market. At the time, I wondered if there was a need for a search marketing magazine, given that there was plenty of online coverage of the search industry. Wouldn’t a printed magazine, that was issued quarterly, always be behind the curve?

Perhaps I was missing the point.

So, I decided to go straight to the horses mouth. Here’s an interview with Search Marketing Standard Editor, Andrey Milyan.

Thanks for talking with us today, Andrey. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your background in Search Marketing?

I have been involved in the SEM field for about 4 years now, working as a freelancer and inhouse. About 2 years ago, while working for a niche B2C magazine, it occurred to me that the SEM industry did not have its own print publication. Even then people were already talking about magazines and newspapers going extinct. However, just like today, I was sure that there was a future for a print magazine focused on SEM. So I pitched this idea to a colleague of mine, Boris Mordkovich, who was already heavily involved in the pay-per-click industry, and after a few months of discussion and consideration, we decided to go for it. That’s how the Search Marketing Standard was born.

How have things been going with Search Marketing Standard? Who would you say is the target market for the publication?

The magazine is doing well.

We’ve received overwhelmingly positive response when the first issue came out. All major blogs covered our debut and even to this day, every new issue gets coverage from a few blogs. We’ve received over a thousand new subscribers two days after announcing our existence. After just one year in business, we’ve increased our circulation by 30% and the amount of content by almost 50%. Our magazine is also distributed at all major conferences, including ad:tech, SES, Traffic Expo, SMX, Affiliate Summit and High Rankings Seminars.

We are very attune to our readers’ opinions and I try to read any feedback sent our way personally. During this year, we’ve implemented a lot of great suggestions made by our subscribers. It gives me a great sense of pride and satisfaction to see that our efforts are making a positive impact on the community.

Contrary to what some people believe, we are not a trade publication. It would be next to impossible to provide value and new information for experts like Danny Sullivan, Barry Schwartz, Rand Fishkin or Andy Beal.

Instead, we are targeting intermediate marketers and advertisers that are looking to improve their Internet marketing campaigns, be it SEO, PPC, local or even SMO.

People often ask us, how can you stay relevant in the industry that is moving so fast? The truth is, I don’t believe that the industry is moving that fast as a whole. It is moving very fast for people like you and me; people who need to keep up with every move Google or Yahoo or Microsoft is making. Do you honestly think an owner of a small travel agency who’s advertising with Google AdWords care about Yahoo purchasing MyBlogLog? Not likely. But what if he wants to know how to optimize his landing page for the new Google Quality Score? Where would he go? Forums? He would probably get bits and pieces of information in different threads but not a complete picture. Blogs? Sure, but what if the blogger covered the issue 3 weeks ago, at the time when it was still a hot topic? How easy would it be for this travel agency guy to find a 3 week old post?

Don’t get me wrong, Peter, I think blogs and forums are great sources of information. But they have their own shortcomings, a void we are trying to fill with this magazine. So in essence, we are not competing with online sources of information, we are supplementing them.

And for those hardcore blog readers, we run our own blog at www.searchmarketingstandard.com/blog, which concentrates solely on tips and strategies for SEM. Absolutely no news :)

I wouldn’t “honestly” think an owner of a small travel agency would care about Yahoo purchasing MyBlogLog, no ;) Is it a tough time for the magazine publishing business in general? Is the internet helping or hindering business, and what way is it changing offline publishing? You talked of less of focus on news, and more of a focus on instruction.

Publishing has always been a tough business to be in. Today, it is both easier and more difficult. It is much easier and a lot cheaper from production standpoint. We are able to send the PDF files of the pages to the printer in Colorado which in turn uses German postal service to send the copies of our magazine anywhere in the world within a week or so.

This was unheard of just 10 years ago.

But you can’t deny it, Internet has made life harder for publishers. However, I think it is a complete nonsense to say that newspapers and magazine will disappear. Newspapers used to have a monopoly on news.

Then came radio. Then came television. And then came cable television with 24 hour news channels like CNN and Fox News. Nevertheless, I still see most people reading newspapers on my train ride to work. How many times have you seen someone with a PDA or a laptop reading their RSS feeds? Internet is the latest wave of innovation to his offline publishers and it won’t be the last.

Of course, as more and more people start to prefer different channels of getting their information (be it news or something else), magazine and newspaper publishers will have to adopt. And they are already well on their way to doing just that. Don’t feel like buying New York Times in the morning? Read it online when you get to work or download the RSS feed to your PDA or smart phone. And yet there are plenty of people who would still pick a crisp magazine over a cold monitor screen any day.

I think it’s great for people to express their views online. The blogosphere is a wonderful phenomenon that is having an impact on everyone, including the magazine and newspaper publishers. But let’s face it, I will never read a blog for reliable news (outside of specific niche markets, of course) unless it is associated with a brand that I consider reliable. I read the Economist not because it is in print but because it offers content that no one else does and I consider it a reliable source of information. They have a team of reporters and editors, infrastructure and connections that no blog can match.

Take Search Marketing Standard Magazine, for example. We realize that Search Engine Land will do a much better job at reporting the new industry developments. We also realize that there is a lot of quality information out there. Heck, when I’m looking for topics to cover, I look online.

But once we figure out which topics are important right now, we can get a few top notch SEM professionals to write a fairly long and detailed articles on these topics. We can make sure the subject matter is discussed in organized and understandable manner, with authors taking weeks to rewrite and perfect their articles. Finally, we can organize this wealth of information and put it in mailboxes across the world and goody bags at all major conferences. And best of all, you can read it on your way to work or on your favorite couch while giving your eyes a rest from the whole day of sitting in front of the monitor. And if you believe that SEM blogs satisfy people’s thirst for information, how do you explain our readership of over 40,000?

I think that’s a good point. Historically, the internet hasn’t replaced other media channels. It tends to complement them.

On the question of credibility – do you think people, particularly younger people, are becoming more skeptical of media brand? Is the rise of blogs and citizen media, in part, a reaction to traditional top-down authority and advertising-driven media?

We were told for generations that our opinions count but until the rise of the citizen media, we had no way of having our voices heard. The question is will the citizen media ever replace the old media? Yes, we hate being told what’s going on by an elite group of journalists and experts. But would you rather be told what’s going on by a group of people with questionable expertise? Besides, completely citizen driven media is as much of an utopia as a citizen run country. Digg uses moderators and bans users at will. And despite what people would like to believe, most of the newly added or modified articles on Wikipedia are being edited by about 1,000 people and editors.

If you are asking me if there is a revolution going on then, yes, most definitely. But as any revolution, once it’s over, citizens still need to organize themselves and that’s where top-down hierarchy will come in again. Both Search Engine Land and John Smith SEO Blog (not real) are blogs created by citizens, not huge brands with buildings in downtown LA or NYC. And yet, Danny has more credibility because of his expertise. There is your hierarchy again.

Citizen media is checking the big brand media, keeping them honest, and that’s great. But will the citizens be able to fill those shoes by themselves? Probably, but once that’s done, I bet they will be indistinguishable from those other big brand they hated so much.

Many thanks for your time, Andrey.

Thank you for the opportunity, Peter. It was my pleasure.


  1. AndreyAndrey04-04-2007

    Thank you for the opportunity, Peter.

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