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Internet titles change with the times

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Two Internet-focused magazines are headed in opposite directions amid the sluggish economy, exemplifying the increasingly Darwinian atmosphere for tech titles following the dot-com debacle.

Penton Media Inc. said late last month that it was scaling back the frequency of Internet World to monthly from 22 issues a year and laying off seven of its 28 employees. Meanwhile, CMP Media L.L.C.’s InternetWeek announced an editorial expansion that commences with the Sept. 17 issue.

In addition to tweaking the design, InternetWeek has added three sections—Serving Customers, Integrating Suppliers and Managing the Enterprise—that will look at how companies increase productivity, open new markets and generate revenue. The Research & Analysis section will appear weekly instead of periodically.

The magazine has been reduced from a 20-by-13-inch tabloid format to 10 by 12 inches. InternetWeek.com is also undergoing content and design changes.

No new staffers have been hired as part of the revamp.

A few factors prompted the changes at Internet World and InternetWeek, primarily the direction each publication took during the dot-com craze. Whereas Internet World tended to embrace dot-com companies, InternetWeek remained focused on traditional companies.

"We stuck to our knitting," said Rob Preston, editor in chief of InternetWeek. "We didn’t morph wholesale into a dot-com book because we were never behind it editorially."

Cutting its losses

The frequency change at Internet World is an effort to stem losses that reached a reported $5.5 million in the first half of the year. The magazine said a recent in-house survey showed that 52% of its readership preferred a monthly frequency.

"We trained our focus on long-term businesses and advertisers, but we probably didn’t do that as well as we might have," said Phil Ripperger, publisher of Internet World. "We’ve never been a dot-com publication specifically, but we did benefit from all the dot-coms that popped up last year, anxious to get into the IPO [initial public offering] market."

Through July, ad pages for Internet World fell 74% from the first seven months of 2000, to 196 pages from 757, according to the "Technology Advertising and Branding Report." Ad pages for InternetWeek fell 31%, to 950 from 1,377.

Reed Phillips III, a partner with media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said CMP sees opportunity in the demise of The Industry Standard and the reduced frequency of Internet World. "CMP is showing much more of an appetite for making [editorial] investments rather than cost-cutting," he said, adding that CMP’s owner, London-based United News & Media plc, wants to protect its only publishing asset.

Phillips said Internet World "has conceded it can’t compete as a biweekly and can connect more with the marketplace by staying strong as a monthly and tying things closer together with events."

Penton is betting that by integrating the editorial and marketing staffs of the publication’s print, Web and Internet World trade show operations, the brand will continue to have legs. For years, some watchers of Internet World—and its predecessor Web Week—have said the print product exists mainly to help market the Internet World trade show.

The integration strategy could be hampered by the economic downturn, which has started to hit the exhibition industry hard. Attendance is expected to be flat for the upcoming Internet World Fall 2001 event in New York.

Of course, InternetWeek has also hit a few bumps along the road, particularly in 1997 when CMP Media changed the name of the publication to InternetWeek from CommunicationsWeek, and lost advertisers as a result.

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