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'InformationWeek' adds services arm

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Always in search of new revenue streams, the trade press has morphed into the business media over the past decade, moving beyond trade publications and into trade shows and the Internet.

Now, InformationWeek has taken the search for revenue one step further. The information technology publication, which is published by Manhasset, N.Y.-based CMP Media, a unit of United Business Media, announced in January that it has launched a services arm that ultimately will include benchmarking, consulting and training services

The first part of the services venture is a benchmarking organization called the Software Genome Council, which Information Week formed in partnership with Troy, N.Y.-based Emergeon L.L.C., a professional services firm.

"I’d say it’s a sign of the times," said Seth Alpert, managing director of AdMedia Partners Inc., New York. "Media companies are struggling for ways to find profitability."

Michael Friedenberg, InformationWeek’s VP-publisher, said the b-to-b media’s days of slash-till-it-hurts cost cutting are over. "We’re at a point when we’ve pretty much used as many cost-cutting measures as possible," he said. "Now the focus is on organic growth and creating new revenue streams."

InformationWeek is one of the largest generators of revenue in b-to-b publishing. The magazine recorded revenue of $108.1 million in 2002, according to Competitive Media Reporting. That was 21% less than in 2001 but still large enough to make InformationWeek the second largest generator of revenue of the trade publications measured by CMR.

New revenue sought

As its revenue slipped, InformationWeek aggressively pursued new revenue sources. Like most strong tech publications, it has moved into offering online ads and developing conferences. And this month, CMP introduces a new quarterly publication, Government Enterprise, which will be poly-bagged with InformationWeek.

The Software Genome Council is the publication’s latest, most unorthodox effort at revenue generation. The organization offers IT executives access to benchmarks of software development, installation and enhancement projects. Members may access Emergeon’s database of 6,000 software projects, enabling them to compare their own projects in terms of time, cost and effectiveness.

InformationWeek has a controlled circulation of 440,000, and Friedenberg believes a significant portion of this group—particularly those readers running IT departments with 100 or more people—will be interested in gaining access to this database. He also believes they will be interested enough to pay the $25,000 annual fee.

Friedenberg said he doesn’t see the service competing with current InformationWeek advertisers.

Revenue from the Software Genome Council will be split between Emergeon, which is responsible for generating sales, and InformationWeek, which handles the marketing—including a Web site accessible through information-week.com.

The Software Genome Council, Friedenberg said, helps fulfill InformationWeek’s mission to provide useful information to its readership base. He said the persistent economic sluggishness has forced IT departments to account precisely for every expenditure and to be more efficient than ever before.

"Our readership is being challenged to get value out of their IT investments," Friedenberg said. "They have to do more with less, and they have to ask themselves how they can maximize the performance of applications."

For Emergeon, the partnership is an opportunity to use an existing database to expand its market. Currently, the company focuses on Fortune 100 companies, according to Ira Grossman, Emergeon’s president.

A modest proposal

The jury is still out on whether the venture is a good move, but observers say they don’t see it as an industry-changing idea.

"They could have a modest business and make a little bit of money and be happy," AdMedia’s Alpert said. "But it wouldn’t be a big deal."

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