The computer goliaths can't abandon traditional business-to-business and trade books, a strategy that gave publishers like CMP Publications, International Data Group and Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. dominance in their fields. But these now much share the soaring ad bounty with consumer titles.
Adscope, a company that tracks high-tech advertising, says the 12 top high-tech advertisers increased ad spending in the first half of 1995 by 10.9%, to $202 million, from the same period a year earlier.
According to Adscope, the title that gained the most new pages was the high-tech Informationweek, up 42.4% to 1,633 pages. But consumer business standbys also benefited: The Wall Street Journal and Business Week saw a 10.2% rise to 724.7 pages and a 6.2% boost to 667.5 pages, respectively.
Some of those gains seem to have come at the expense of high-tech titles like PC Computing, PC Magazine and Computer Reseller News, all down anywhere from 13.8% to 6.6%.
But agencies making the space buys say slumping pages in books with titles bearing the words "PC" and "Computer" don't signal a major downturn. Instead, buyers say big marketers are still feeding pages steadily to the first generation of trades, siphoning off some to new consumer titles like Computer Life, Family PC and Home PC.
"I don't really think this movement into `consumer media' will impact pages at the trades," says Mike Walsh, a senior VP at Ketchum Advertising, Pittsburgh, agency for Digital Equipment Corp. "What I think is happening is that overall ad budgets are increasing."
"We have gone into more titles this year," confirms David Yoder, media director at Andersen & Lembke, Sand Francisco, a shop that works with Microsoft Corp. on print advertising. "But we haven't diluted our traditional buys."
Jack Edmonston, a consultant at Hayes/Edmonston, which calculates figures for total U.S. ad spending for computers and office equipment, says the biggest chunk of the category's print spending increase went to national newspapers and general business and consumer magazines (both up 13%). Spending in computer magazines grew more slowly, up only 7%.
But Mr. Edmonston, and others such as Carolyn Kapuvari, director of CMP's technology research center, say even a small increase in trade-book spending is significant.
Ms. Kapuvari says dollars spent and pages involved at big-book companies easily dwarf single business titles, which can get major percentage gains by adding a few dozen pages.
"It's not significantly impacting the trades," says Ms. Kapuvari of the trend.
"If there's slippage in the vertical books, it's because they may be strongest with respect to users," agrees Forbes Ad Director Bill Flatley, whose ad pages for computers, data processing and software were up 16% to 365 during the first nine months of 1995, Publishers' Information Bureau reports.
Forbes' gain isn't an anomaly. Computer advertising, fifth among the top 10 ad categories during the period, was up 24.4% in general consumer titles, to 12,007 pages, through Sept. 30, according to PIB.
The reason partly is that publishers are aggressively seeking out new opportunities for high-tech advertisers. An example is Time Inc., launching Time Digital this month.
Time Digital is aiming at general consumers with a proven interest in the market. The Time Warner unit plans to see 1 million copies of Time Digital via home delivery or in Computer City stories to a group of consumers that Publisher Jack Haire says match three criteria: They are professionals, parents and non-novice PC users.
"Our target is professional, managerial people that want to enhance their business and professional life," Mr. Haire says.
IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Xerox Corp., Computer City, Epson America and the Hammermill Paper division of International Paper Co. all advertise in the new book.
Another reason why consumer titles are attracting more high-tech ad pages is partnering.
Bedfellows from the computer trade and consumer markets such as Ziff-Davis and Disney Magazine Publishing have created crossover titles like Family PC.
Even kids' books are getting into the act. Nickelodeon magazine presents with Viacom New Media in its November issue a special 10-page section call "Click. Nick" for technology advertisers.