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Tabloids no more

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InfoWorld and eWeek each made high-profile changes from tabloid size to regular magazine format in April in an effort to keep up with the changing needs of their readers.

Demand for a more portable product prompted the shift at Ziff Davis Media Inc.’s eWeek. "The magazine is a big part of our subscribers’ weekly life," said Brian Gleason, eWeek’s publisher. "The easier we could make it for them to handle and pass along, the better."

EWeek, which has a controlled circulation of 400,100, also switched to saddle-stitch binding, a glossy paper stock and easier-to-read type fonts, and committed to running more photographs. In addition, Ziff Davis increased its investment in two lab-test facilities in order to beef up eWeek’s reviews.

International Data Group’s InfoWorld, a weekly with a controlled circulation of 220,000, made sweeping editorial changes as part of its revamp, with more pages devoted to analysis, as well as more photos and graphics.

"The way people purchase these tech products has changed in the last few years," said Kevin McKean, CEO-editorial director of InfoWorld Media Group. "Companies are no longer purchasing IT products just to keep up with the Joneses. People are much more accountable now, and the new InfoWorld reflects that."

McKean said the new size and look of InfoWorld should make the magazine stand out. "You can put any tabloids up on a wall together—Women’s Wear Daily, Variety, the old InfoWorld—and they all look the same," he said. "But when you have a magazine, you can really let the reader know what’s inside and have more fun with the look."

Ad rates for both InfoWorld and eWeek remain the same. "In this economic climate, we just didn’t feel right upping the prices," Gleason said.

Ed Fitzelle, AdMedia Partners managing director, said one thing to watch for when a title switches from tabloid to magazine format is a frequency change. "It can really lose its newsy feel, and suddenly the magazine is being tossed into the pile of monthlies that you’ll get to eventually rather than the weeklies or dailies that need to be read right now," he said.

Both publishers said no change in frequency is imminent.

Primedia also is in the process of changing some of its tabloids to magazine format, according to Thomas M. Fogarty, VP-production for Primedia Business Magazines & Media. Fogarty said the best time to make the move is at the start of a calendar year, with six months prior notification on all Web sites and in media kits. "Communicate to your advertisers and their agencies the new size and the effective issue date," he said. "This lets them get their creative in order."

McKean’s advice to those considering a change is that while research and focus groups are helpful, it’s most important to get key staff members together to focus on what the title wishes to achieve with the shift. "It’s not as simple as just stuffing the same stories into a new size wrapper," he said. "You need to be sure your design reinforces your mission."

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