Rob Cook is one of the digital pioneers in agricultural communications. He now works for Vance Publishing overseeing CattleNetwork.com. Rob and I sat down for a conversation about CattleNetwork.com and the Vance acquisition while we were attending the Cattle Industry Summer Conference.
His family has been in the cattle business a long time. He says that about 7 years ago, 6 or 7 feedyards got together to start CattleNetwork.com as an online place to get business information. Since then it has grown to an audience of 800,000 repeat visitors who visit the cattle news portal. Rob says the biggest growth has been in the cow/calf sector.
Income for CattleNework.com comes from subscriptions, distribution agreements (CattleStore.com) and advertising with advertising being the largest source of dollars. He says that they had been working with Vance for some time but did this deal since Vance wanted to provide its customers with a more “blended offering” that includes print, video and web. I asked him how they put out so much content and he says they’ve created a very process oriented system that automates a big percentage of the information collection and distribution. Rob says the model for CattleNetwork.com has been replicated for their AgNetwork.com which covers 15 different commodities.
I asked him if they were considering podcasting and text services and he says they definitely are. He says the number one call they get from producers is a request to make CattleNetwork.com more compatible for phones! Like us here at ZimmComm, he was told 6 years ago that no one would use the internet but those same people now have iPhones and are using texting.
Looking ahead, Rob says their focus in 2009 is creating more value added information. He says they’re also working on a new market reporting system too.
The program this week ends with music from the Podsafe Music Network. Since we’re talking about cattle and last week was a lot of work with the Beef Board, you get to listen to “Chipped Beef” from the Blackouts. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for listening.
You can download and listen to the ZimmCast here: ZimmCast 180 (24 min MP3)
Or listen to this week’s ZimmCast right now:Interview With Rob Cook - ZimmCast 190
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