Alex Daley, Association of Online Publishers
Head of the UK's trade body for web publishers
How long have you been in this role? I started working for the Association of Online Publishers in August 2002, shortly after the association was created.
What inspires you to come to work each day? The prospect of working with some of the biggest names in online publishing, and driving the industry forward.
How do you spend a typical working day? No two days are ever the same in my role. Though I’m often out and about visiting members and taking part in various action groups, I'm primarily office-based, within the wider structure of the Periodical Publishers Association, the body that represents the UK magazine industry and out of whose interactive division AOP was formed.
A normal working day involves sorting through a large number of emails, co-ordinating the various initiatives, committees, events and working parties that AOP runs or participates in, and writing news stories for the web and for our newsletter.
At the moment I'm working on a major research project into the relationship between site audiences and their response to advertising in different environments, and planning the programme for an online publishing conference in May.
What has been the most exciting part of your job so far? I'm very lucky, usually there's at least one thing each day that creates some excitement.
The annual AOP conference and awards, which takes place each October, is a really exciting event; there were more than 430 people last year and the night created such a buzz.
I love knowing who the winners are in advance and seeing their reactions when they discover they have beaten their competitors to an AOP award.
How did you enter the publishing industry? This is actually my first role in online publishing. Before working for AOP, I was more focused on multimedia, and worked in production and creative development.
When did you first start working online? I graduated with an English degree from Sussex University some years ago now and, inspired by the creativity surrounding the dotcom boom, studied for an MSc in Information Systems at Brighton University.
That armed me with a lot of technical know-how and skills such as web development and managing databases, and I specialised in interactive TV.
Conveniently, I've now come a full circle and my work at AOP demands my written skills and my technical skills in equal part.
Do you think that the internet industry is dominated by men? I do find I meet more men than women in my work life.
A membership survey we conducted a year ago found that 40 per cent of the online publishing workforce is female, but men are more likely to become directors and senior managers.
I don't know what the answer is, but it can only work against the industry if it's failing to be representative.
What's the biggest challenge of publishing online? Making money from it!
Will paid content be the future for web publishers? It very much depends on the product. Publishers shouldn't undervalue their online content, but should also be aware that if something is available elsewhere for free, then charging won't work.
Advertising is likely to remain the dominant revenue source for consumer publishers for some time, I think, but boosting that with paid content is a sensible move if you can do it.
Do you read more online or in print? When I'm at work, the web is my main medium and a constant source of information. When my internet connection is down, I feel as though my arm's been cut off!
However, for reading experience, I love books, magazines and newspapers. I think the web complements traditional media, rather than replacing it.
Which web sites do you use the most? I use environment site Care2.com for email; Guardian Unlimited and BBC.co.uk for general news; Brand Republic, Revolution Magazine, and New Media Age for new media news; and Streetmap and Google far more than I care to admit!
What advice would you give to young people wanting to work in web publishing? Make sure you are savvy to what’s happening on the web. Approach companies that are publishing sites you love and you are pretty sure will still be there in two years’ time.
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