IPVM For PR / Marketing People

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 12, 2013

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

Below is a 1 hour video recording of a live webinar we held with 50+ marketers:

The video covers the same content as presented below with more color and questions from many marketers.


IPVM started in April 2008, as my programming project spidering manufacturer websites to identify and collect new information / URLs. It led to posting about product news and quickly had over 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 (135 current attendees for the 10 week course). Overall, now in 2013, we have 6,000+ members.

IPVM has no external funding, is debt free and continuously profitable since 2009.

The chart below shows the trend in overall visits to IPVM over the past 4 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.]

Overwhelmingly, people come directly to IPVM:

Comparison To Other Sources

PR people obviously want to understand the impact of media sources and especially compared to other sites. Here's my best guess at how IPVM compares:

  • In terms of sheer numbers, we have more visits than most online security sites, with only SecurityInfoWatch having slightly more and SourceSecurity more than double (industry best at SEO).
  • In terms of direct traffic, we probably have more visits than any security site. From what we have seen, even from some of their own reports, most security sites get 80%+ of their traffic from search, primarily due to the massive amount of press releases and data sheets that they copy/post. By contrast, we get less than 1/3rd search visits.
  • In terms of video surveillance traffic, we likely get 5x to 10x more reads than any security site, as they almost all cover a broad array of security products and services.

That said, the biggest PR impact comes from IPVM taking strong positions on issues. Because of this, we are far more likely to shift views than sites that republish manufacturer marketing. Certainly, those sites are better for marketing efforts but far less influential.

IPVM Cultural Differences

To understand why we do what we do and how to interact with us, there are two fundamental cultural differences:

  • Engineering mindset: We focus on understanding what works and how well things work. By contrast, trade magazine editors typically have mindsets similar to marketing people. We are like the engineers you dread dealing with.
  • Rebellious approach: We want to call out, debunk and stop misleading marketing practices. This is the 'negativity' that PR people understandably dislike about IPVM.

We feel this makes the industry better by delivering more accurate information and fighting back against bad spin. Of course, this makes marketing harder when our position conflicts with a company's PR agenda.

Money and Its Impact

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

Manufacturer commonly threaten media sources with pulling payments but those threats are pointless to us. That's why we can call out any manufacturer at any time without any fear of undermining our business.

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 their unhappy will not result in any positive action.

Facts and Opinions

One of the webinar registrants asked, is this "Facts based or opinion based research?" It's definitely both.

Facts are the foundations of our analysis - how things work, how well things work in tests, etc. But what that means and whether one should use or not use is obviously our opinion.

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.

Covering Your Companies Product?

The most common question asked in the PR survey was essentially, "How do you choose what products to cover?" / "How can I get you to cover our products?" To answer that, we need to examine reader interest.

Nobody Wants to Read About Your Products*

Yes, nobody wants to read about your products. I mean this statistically, not as a matter of personal judgment. Indeed, the same applies for reading about IPVM.

Challenge #1: The market is extremely fragmented so most people are not going to consider or be interested in any manufacturer's product. Even mega manufacturers are ~5%, medium ones are 1%, etc.

Challenge #2: The Internet inundates people with millions of options, almost more interesting and entertaining than descriptions or reviews of your (or my) products.

Global Impact of Weak Demand

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. Such posts typically get a few hundred real reads total.

IPVM Impacted as Well

It does not make sense for us to write on most products because our readership levels, just as well, cannot justify it. For instance, a test might cost us a few thousand dollars to do but even a popular is only going to result in a thousand or so reads. That's hard to justify.

Here's What Readers Want

We obsessively tack web statistics to better understand what readers value. Here they are, based on those stats:

Reviews and tests of individual products generate 80 to 90% less traffic at roughly the same cost.

But... New Product That Deliver Something Genuinely New

Despite this harsh reality, one driver helps get products covered: Products with features that no one else or very few other manufacturers already have. Why? Because this impacts trends and important shifts in the markets. As a PR person, you need to look hard at what, if any, does each release have. If they have none, it is a huge uphill battle, not only for us, but for any coverage. However, if you do, make it very clear what that 1 or few big differentiators are - state it clearly up front and often. Too many PR people bizarrely bury that under a stream of gibberish and platitudes.

It Helps Being Big But Be Honest...

We are more likely to write a review on a big company (like Axis or Milestone). Certainly, one factor is that more people care about them. But these companies disproportionately do new things (not all great, some which we mock). On the other hand, we rarely cover megacompanies like Honeywell and GE/Interlogix because there's really nothing new nor compelling for them in surveillance.

A marketing person cannot change the size of their company but they can help position themselves to release products that are different and new to the market.

What Marketers Do Today

99% of information published is brochureware - dull, corporate speak, one sided, best case scenario. For people who reach out to you, whether in person, or over the phone or to your website, that is acceptable (though we could debate if you could do better).

However, for reaching out to people on the Internet, it's death. And it gets worse each year as availability and expectations for better information become stronger. With existing content, even paying a fortune, getting large numbers of people's attention is mission impossible.

Here's What You Should Do

Three parts:

Maximize Your Own Internal Efforts

Make sure you build your own email list and regularly communicate with it. Why? Most people will not reach out, email lets you stay in touch far more cost effectively, broadly and consistently than any other medium. Also, host regular interactive webinars.

I would say stop wasting your money in print but the reality is that has already happened. Only megamanufacturers and trunk slammers routinely advertise in trade magazines. Shift that money to your own internal online activities.

Interacting with IPVM

I do not think interacting with IPVM will help much but since you are here, a few words: Get a strong product or technical person to be our contact. They can give us more details and we can trust them more. I doubt it will lead to much more coverage but it does make it easier to reference or write about your company if we can verify technical details.

Get a Personality

This is the big one. The one that no manufacturer in security / surveillance has yet to do. Hate our approach but part of IPVM's attraction is that it has personality (good, bad or ugly). I do not expect you to emulate us but our traffic is huge relative to its expense (Fact: a year of IPVM, 1 million visits, fits in a few weeks of Avigilon's marketing budget).

Here's a better example. Meet Joel Spolsky. His writings in the early 2000s led to huge exposure and sales for his software products.

He wrote interesting, entertaining general posts about his industry (software) but rarely, if ever, talked about his product (bug tracking). Despite this, he built a huge audience who respected and trusted him, and eventually bought his product and fueled his expansion into many other areas.

Today, it is quite common for tech entrepreneurs to have their own informative blogs that do not pitch their products but share insights into their market.

If you want to reach a broader audience and have people respect you even before they use your product, you need to build a credible online personality. Quite frankly, it may be too out of line with the company's culture but that's the new big thing for building outsized influence. Without that, you are left paying for people to read your brochureware.


There are a ton of topics, issues and avenues that we have not touched. Feel free to leave a comment or email us and we will answer anything else.

Comments (2): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Marketing

3VR Sales And Marketing Execs Out, Company Shifting on Nov 22, 2016
Two executives are out at 3VR, both after relatively short tenures at the company. 3VR's CEO says this is part of a shift to cover new markets....
Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2016 on Nov 21, 2016
Hikvision has been the top gaining manufacturer in IPVM's annual integrator survey the past 2 years (see 2015 results and 2014 results). Can they...
Sony and Bosch Combine Forces on Nov 15, 2016
Two of the biggest brands in the video surveillance industry are joining forces. Following a wave of industry consolidation and the race to the...
Samsung Brand 'Phasing' Out For Hanhwa Techwin on Nov 14, 2016
The phasing out of the Samsung brand for video surveillance products continues. First, it was the corporate name changing from Samsung Techwin to...
Milestone Launches $50,000 Developer Contest on Oct 26, 2016
Milestone wants independent developers to enhance XProtect. In a hackathon-style contest Milestone is soliciting developers to submit ideas for a...
"WTF?!?!? Who is Brian Karas?!?" Exclaims Knightscope on Oct 21, 2016
Knightscope co-founder Stacy Stephens emailed us: He may not have intended to send it to us and he probably can figure out who Brian Karas is,...
IHS Sells Credibility To Manufacturer Sponsorships on Oct 18, 2016
A valuable manufacturer opportunity or a conflict of interest? Trade magazines have long offered promotional whitepapers and webinars to...
No Marketing Gimmick, Sharp Security Robot Targets Professional Market on Oct 17, 2016
Security robots are getting a lot of attention. Unfortunately, this is often for wrong reasons, most spectacularly highlighted by the Knightscope...
The 'Last Chance to Save' On Hikvision Is Here on Sep 29, 2016
It is over. After at least 8 across the board price cuts in the past 10 months, including an unprecedented back to back 20% off, Hikvision has...
How To Become an 'Expert' In An Hour on Sep 02, 2016
If you want to be perceived as an expert in your market, speak at every event possible... the math is simple: when someone stands in front of an...

Most Recent Industry Reports

The Russian SMP Security Robot on Dec 08, 2016
A Russian manufacturer, SMP, has a commercially available outdoor security robot, at a lower price and with much less marketing than their main...
How Hikvision Beats Its OEMs on Dec 08, 2016
Hikvision GM declared that they are not aggressive with their competitors. But some of their own OEM partners disagree. Inside, we reveal a key...
Dahua Discontinuing H.264 Only Products on Dec 08, 2016
Dahua has taken a stand for H.265 and is discontinuing its H.264 only products. We examine the shakeup inside this...
Last Day Save $50 IP Networking Course January 2017 on Dec 08, 2016
Today is the last day to save $50 on next month's IP networking course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Hikvision vs Dahua Mobile Apps Tested on Dec 07, 2016
With smartphone use and low-cost video recorders surging, many user's main interface to their surveillance system is their phone. With mobile video...
Paxton Drops US Reps, Plans Major Expansion on Dec 07, 2016
Paxton is gearing up to make a big run at  US access control success. The first step they have made is to cut all US Rep Firms, in anticipation of...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered on Dec 06, 2016
A backdoor has been uncovered in ~80 Sony IP camera models, attackers can remotely enable telnet on the camera, and then potentially login as root,...
Power Drill Selection Guide on Dec 06, 2016
Boring holes is a basic part of running cables for most security system projects. To do so, you will need to choose the right drills for various...
Milestone Favorability Results on Dec 06, 2016
In our second installment of manufacturer favorability results (first was Pelco), we turn to Milestone. 100+ integrators rated and explained what...

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