BtoB

New formats for three IDG titles designed to fuel online presence

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IDG Communications currently generates about a third of its revenue from the Web, and IDG Corp. Chairman Pat McGovern has said the technology publisher is on track to derive at least 50% of its revenue from online media by 2010.

The company has recently taken some major steps toward that goal, which could be a sign of things to come for other b-to-b media companies.

On March 27, IDG said it would fold the print version of InfoWorld and shift all of the publication's content to the Web. April 2 was the last print issue of InfoWorld (180,000 circ.), which debuted in 1980.

IDG plans to beef up Infoworld.com with at least one product enhancement a month and one new product a month to cater to mainstay sponsors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft, said Paul Calento, senior VP-strategic development at InfoWorld. The migration online "reflects where our audience is going," he said.

About a week after the InfoWorld decision was announced, two other major IDG titles, Computerworld (180,000 circ.) and Network World (170,000 circ.) said they plan to shrink their print editions from tabloid to newsmagazine format starting with the July issues.

Roland DeSilva, a partner in media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said of IDG's moves: "When b-to-b publishers own their audience they should deliver the information in the most profitable ways and that'll be a mixture of shows, online and print. ... Some b-to-b companies may do what IDG is doing. The vast majority will not."

The changes reflect where some of IDG's markets are headed. Ad pages for all three books have declined in recent years. InfoWorld's ad pages totaled 1,262 last year, down from 1,880 in 2002, according to IMS -The Auditor. Ad pages for Computerworld fell to 1,442 in 2006, from 1,786 in 2002. Ad pages for Network World dropped to 1,753 last year, from 2,412 in 2002.

"Our readers live in a very fast-paced world, and we can take advantage of the Web in ways that we don't have in print," said John Gallant, president and editorial director of Network World. He added that Network World is crafting "innovative" ways to drive people from print to online, although he did not offer specifics.

Matt Sweeney, CEO of Computerworld, one of IDG's first b-to-b titles, said the decision to shrink the magazine's format was based on two factors. One is that postage is usually less for newsmagazines than tabloids. Perhaps more important, Computerworld's audience now consumes most of its information online.

"Web is for breaking news, print is for contextual news," Sweeney said. He said the format change "would save us a few bucks," but he would not elaborate. Computerworld plans to use some of the savings to invest in a video studio to be built later this year in Framingham, Mass.

Gallant said that shrinking Network World's format would save "hundreds of thousands of dollars" but would not be more specific. He said the shift of readers and advertisers to the Internet is having a big impact.

"We have to be agile publishers and deliver the information in the most effective way our readers want," he said. "The spending shift from print to online is in its infancy."

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