'Maxim'um impact

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If there is one thing that Stephen Colvin gets, it is the 18-to-34 age demographic that advertisers so covet.

As the former president-CEO of Dennis Publishing, Colvin developed and launched Maxim for the U.S. market, as well as The Week and Blender, and expanded the company from four people sitting in a New York office to 300 people spread across six U.S. cities. Maxim still reigns as the top young men's lifestyle publication.

When Dennis was acquired in June by private equity firm Quadrangle Capital Partners II, Colvin didn't want his next job to merely repeat what he'd done at Dennis.

With his arrival at CNET Networks as exec VP for the entertainment and lifestyle brands, the Belfast native said he thinks he has found a challenge in tapping his past experience and customer knowledge to grow a handful of digital products. The online properties include CHOW, FilmSpot, GameSpot,, and UrbanBaby.

"What I took away [from Dennis] is you've got to debate," he said. "You need a good team. You've got to have a clearly defined brand concept. It must stand for something. People must know what it's all about and what the benefit of the brand is to them, whether it's the reader or the advertising partner."

Colvin said he has high hopes for GameSpot, beyond its status as an authority in the gaming arena. Because gaming is growing as a social phenomenon, Colvin wants to grow the site's traffic and ad base, but he also wants to extend the brand to other platforms such as television and mobile devices, all in concert with marketing partners.

UrbanBaby's site is also likely to be tinkered with, as Colvin provides more content for the upwardly mobile young families who choose to remain in urban areas rather than head for suburbia and are a very desirable target audience for advertisers.

Despite his background, Colvin is not as rattled as one might expect by the prospect of serving a female audience, he said, because 25% of Maxim's readership was female during his tenure.

Colvin also is charged with expanding CNET's lifestyle segment through acquisitions or launches, but said additional products would have to fit alongside the existing businesses. And it all has to work, he added, in an environment in which advertisers can engage with customers and stand apart from the clutter of messaging.

"There are so many potential things to do that you have to prioritize what's important," he said. "All the brands have great potential."

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