IPVM For PR / Marketing People

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 25, 2017

This post helps PR and Marketing people understand and productively work with IPVM (as much as possible given our independent, often critical, position). It may be useful for others as it talks about our philosophy and positioning.

Background

IPVM started in April 2008, as the founder's, John Honovich, programming project. Called at that time, "IP Video Market Info", the site spidered manufacturer websites to identify and collect newly posted links / web pages. Here is what an earlier version of IPVM looked like:

While IPVM is most known for its stances on industry issues, IP Video Market Info was not found to do that. However, a few months after the site started spidering / collecting links, we added commentary on those links. It led to posting about product news and quickly grew to 10,000 monthly visits. During 2008, it was a free experiment.

At the beginning of 2009, we started the membership service (a few dozen signed up the first week). In 2012, we added in online training (with now 800+ per year trained. Overall, now in 2017, we have 10,000+ members.

IPVM has no external funding nor ownership, is debt free and continuously profitable since 2009.

Visits / Traffic

The chart below shows the trend in overall visits to IPVM over the past 8 years:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

[Note: many people visit multiple times per month. Given that people can access from many devices (phones, tablets, work PCs, home PCs, etc. accurately estimating actual uniques is not feasible.]

Page Views

IPVM has ~450,000 page views per month, or roughly 3 per visitor.

In terms of individual articles / stories, in the first month after publication, this is a rough rule of thumb for how many reads they will get on IPVM:

  • 10,000+ reads - 'mega' story; typically involving a major manufacturer and major trend
  • 5,000+ reads - very high interest; our best tests, statistic reports and news events coverage are in this range
  • 3,000+ reads - strong interest; the top 20% of our posts are here or higher
  • 1,500 reads - average post, average tech topic or mid-sized manufacturer
  • ~750 reads -  niche post, either a small manufacturer or small topic

In the first year following publication, after the first month, articles average an additional 50% more reads. So if an article received 1,500 reads in the first month, in the next 11 months, it would typically get ~750 more reads.

Whether the article is free or not does not make much difference for readership. There are only so many people in this relatively small industry who want to read an article about codecs or Exacq's new recorder or Axis' 138th dome camera. The only exception are stories that show up high in Google search results but those are generally tutorials or general topics as Google search traffic for niche industry terms is comparatively low.

Geographic Breakdown

Geographically, ~45% of visits are from the USA, our home base, with the majority from outside the USA. The following lists the top 10 countries, by visit, for October 2016:

Comparison To Other Sources

IPVM has more online traffic than any other media source / publication covering the video surveillance industry. Trade magazine websites tend to have in the range of 50,000 to 100,000 visits per month and under 200,000 page views, despite the benefit of being free / public.

We publish 50+ original articles each month, which is far more than any other source as most sites re-run press releases or manufacturer marketing material (e.g., case studies). That our articles are original and that they take strong positions are key drivers to our traffic.

From a PR / marketing standpoint, we are (sadly) the only industry media that will regularly take strong positions on issues, especially being critical of major companies. A significant part of our impact comes from this role. 

Money and Its Impact

IPVM makes all its money from low cost subscriptions and online training fees. We do not accept advertising nor do we have any consulting projects or any other arrangements with any manufacturer.

Manufacturer commonly threaten media with pulling payments. Those threats are extremely powerful for other media sources but are useless to us. That is why we can call out any manufacturer at any time without any fear of undermining our business.

Why Original Reporting Is So Rare In Trades

If you wonder why trade magazines almost only write about their advertisers or republish articles manufacturer submit, this is why. Readership is super low and it cannot justify original reporting. 10 - 20 years ago, when print was in its heyday, trade magazines had lots of money and no competition from the Internet / Google / manufacturer website, mags could invest in numerous in-depth articles. This is long gone and most trade magazine websites average a few hundred reads per press release, case study or 'thought piece' they run.

We Care About Getting It Right

While we do not care about manufacturer money, we do deeply care about getting things right technically. If a company feels something is wrong or incomplete, we want to know. The best thing to do is have a technical / product person reach out to us and explain. By contrast, having a PR agency tell us they are unhappy will not result in any change. 

Neutral vs Independent

We are not neutral. We are not trying to be the 'Switzerland' of security technology.

We are independent and technically grounded. We are not impacted by manufacturer money. Rather, we always seek to ground our opinions on research/testing, frequently unique work done nowhere else in the industry.

PR Firms and IPVM

Our experience with PR firms shows that most deliver poor value and that the larger the firm (e.g., LRG), the lower the value is, as their charges to manufacturers go up and their antiquated processes remain. Many PR firms are still built around the broken model of pushing out boring marketing fluff and paying / paying off trade magazines to run their ads / 'thought' pieces.

First of all, undoubtedly, this approach is useless to us. Every time a PR person sends a stock 'please post this press release' email to us, we shake our heads and genuinely feel bad for the manufacturers who pay them for this spam approach. Most of these PR firms wind up not even trying to contact us, which clearly lowers their overall value proposition to manufacturers.

Secondly, the old school PR approach will wind you up with press releases in a handful of publications but with very few actual reads. Indeed, we continue to strongly recommend LinkedIn as a much more powerful and useful marketing alternative (indeed, we spend with LinkedIn ourselves).

Embargoes

We do generally accept embargoes - which are effectively pre-briefings on news (typically products) that are not yet released with an agreement that we will not report on it until the company officially announces it. Doing so helps us get detailed questions answered that improves our coverage as well as helps the company better understand our concerns and potential criticisms up front. If we already know of the news through other sources, we will tell a company up front that we will not accept embargoes. That said, since readership in this industry is so low (compared to Apple news or national politics), we have little incentive to break embargoes. Equally important, we see the value of IPVM to our members in the analysis we provide, not the sheer fact of reporting first.

Off the Record

We regularly speak to manufacturers off the record, which means we will not print what was said in phone calls. The goal there is to let execs or marketing people explain their issues / concerns or point of view without fear of being ambushed or misquoted. The reality is that with our product testing, integrator surveys, general knowledge, public materials, etc., if we find something to criticize, we can do so based on that. Calls are a chance for a company to clarify things and understand what our concerns are.

Speaking With IPVM

We are open to talking to any company in the industry that we cover. For example, for a while, we spoke regularly with Hikvision and they gave us feedback on their products and positioning. They were very happy to get what is essentially free exposure from us. Than shortly after we started to report on their Chinese government ownership, they banned communication with us. That is not the first time a manufacturer has done so, it will not be the last. It certainly does not prevent us from reporting on a company but it does make it harder for the company to share their viewpoint, which certainly hurts them.

If companies want to restart communications (e.g., we talk with Arecont and Avigilon now), we are happy to do so but we will certainly continue to do product tests, conduct surveys, issue analysis, etc. with or without official communication.

As long as PR / marketing / execs are willing to speak honestly with us and not to try to push to run their canned marketing content, we are happy to speak with them. 

More?

If you want to talk about anything else, feel free to leave a comment or email us and we will respond.

[Note: this was originally written in 2013 but was substantially updated in 2017.]

Comments (4): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Marketing

Hikvision: IPVM Is "Destined To Fail" on Jun 14, 2017
Hikvision has accused IPVM of 'cyberbullying' them, declaring IPVM 'destined to fail.' This is the 3rd anti-IPVM Hikvision post in 2 weeks,...
NLSS / ATV Partnership Examined on Jun 13, 2017
NLSS has been one of the most ambitious security / surveillance startups. After selling his last startup, Sypixx, to Cisco, Pete...
Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Hikvision Marketer Caught Spamming, Fails at Coverup, Fired on May 23, 2017
A Hikvision marketing employee was caught by IPCamTalk trying to surreptitiously disparage IPVM and IPCamTalk. This is an outgrowth of Hikvision's...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...
A Marketing Home Run For Knightscope - Man Attacks Robot on Apr 27, 2017
We criticize Knightscope regularly - their lack of revenue, their trying to fool mom 'n pop investors, their associating themselves with a clueless...
Beware The "Hit List" Ranking on Apr 21, 2017
The hit list. Kirschenbaum's recent newsletter complained about a 'hit list', bemoaning how a company took aim at ADT. Alas, that's the Google...
Failing at Marketing, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on Apr 18, 2017
The ballerinas are out. The price cuts are back. Hikvision is struggling to build a premium brand (i.e., 'The Art of Video Surveillance') so...
Nvidia Deep Learning Developer Kit Examined on Apr 17, 2017
Can building a deep learning video analytics application be as easy as the typical VMS installation? Maybe not quite, but Nvidia is aiming to make...
A New Low For Knightscope - Just $3! on Apr 13, 2017
Take a look: Did you think, even for a fraction of a second, "$3 per share, could be a good deal"? If so, you should not invest in anything....

Most Recent Industry Reports

Importance of Sales To Integrators - Statistics on Jun 23, 2017
One of the top trends in the industry over the past few years has been the rise of across-the-board sales (e.g.: Hikvision Sales, Dahua Sale,...
Deep Learning Surveillance Startups Deep Problem on Jun 23, 2017
The undeniably good news for the video surveillance market is that we are seeing the rise of more startups than in many years. The cause of this...
Avigilon Announces RADAR-Based Presence Detector on Jun 22, 2017
RADAR is gaining momentum within physical security. Two months after Axis announced a network radar detector, Avigilon has announced a RADAR-Based...
Covert Cloud Camera Service Launching (KJB) on Jun 22, 2017
Cloud IP cameras, for consumers, has become increasingly commonplace. However, covert cameras, lag there, with few options. Now, North America's...
Manufacturers Shipping Unlicensed H.265 Products on Jun 22, 2017
While H.265 support in video surveillance is growing, IPVM's research shows that most surveillance manufacturers are shipping H.265 products with...
Uniview Low-Cost Bullet PTZ Tested on Jun 21, 2017
Uniview is offering a HD zoom bullet camera, the IPC742SR9-PZ30-32G, with an integrated pan / tilt positioner, for the price of a low-cost...
QSR Video Surveillance Best Practices on Jun 21, 2017
Fast food restaurants or QSRs (quick service restaurants), are frequent victims of crime and fraud. Because they are open late, deal with cash, and...
45 Drives 'Lowest Cost' Enterprise Storage Company Profile on Jun 21, 2017
45 Drives claims the "lowest cost per Hard Drive Slot in the industry." But who or what is '45 Drives'? What started as a product design to...
No Hack, Still Liable, Court Finds ADT on Jun 20, 2017
Recently, ADT has been in the news for a $16 million settlement for a cyber security vulnerability class action suit. One of the most important...
Resolver / PPM 2000 Incident Management Platform Profile on Jun 20, 2017
You might have seen the company whose employees wear hockey jerseys at trade shows and wondered "what do they do?" PPM 2000 has been active in...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact