PLAYER OF THE WEEK: BURSTEIN SIZES UP ZIFF'S VALUE FOR NEW CATEGORIES: EXEC CREDITS HIS MAGAZINES WITH MORE INFLUENCE THAN THEIR TITLES WOULD SUGGEST

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Lawrence C. Burstein's promotion to president of Ziff-Davis' Consumer Media Group looks to be an even bigger opportunity for him in the wake of an executive shuffle earlier this month.

The departures of three members of Ziff-Davis' executive committee-Ronni Sonnenberg, president, U.S. publications; Jeff Ball- owe, president, Interactive Media & Development Group; and J.B. Holston III, president, International Media Group-follow that of Mr. Burstein's predecessor, J. Scott Briggs, who will become an industry consultant.

Mr. Burstein now reports to Ms. Sonnenberg's successor, Claude Sheer.

OVERSEES U.S. MAGAZINES

Mr. Burstein, 44, was promoted to his current post in June, assuming publishing and editorial responsibility for all the company's consumer-oriented magazines and their related Web sites in the U.S.

He will oversee titles including Computer Life, Family PC, Computer Gaming World, Electronic Gaming World, Yahoo! Internet Life and Internet Underground.

A veteran consumer magazine publisher, Mr. Burstein joined Ziff-Davis in June 1996 as senior VP-consumer advertising after a stint as publishing director of Hearst Magazines' Esquire. New advertisers he has helped bring to Ziff-Davis in the past year include American Express Co., Chrysler Corp., General Motors Corp.'s Buick and The Gap.

In addition to enhancing the group's sales network, extending added-value packages for advertisers and creating brand extensions for the titles, one immediate goal for Mr. Burstein is finding new ad categories for the magazines.

His approach will be to show advertisers how technology intersects everyday life and why Ziff-Davis' books are essential to a marketing plan.

"The whole technology sector, in all different parts of our lives, is booming," he said. "These magazines take a different look at each segment of this market. If you take both computing and the Internet, the technology market is tremendous in terms of size. Technology also spans so many different markets. We have magazines that address the needs of families, computer enthusiasts, Internet users and computer gamers."

RESEARCHING COMPUTER BUFFS

Research Mr. Burstein commissioned from Roper Starch Worldwide, with release set for early fall, will explore societal trends of computer aficionados.

"It's easy to demonstrate the education and income levels of this audience. But what does it mean? That's what this study will look at," he said. Early results show early adaptors are regarded as influencers for those around them. Computers also have influenced lifestyles on a broader scale.

"Technology departments were one of the first to start business casual [wardrobes]," Mr. Burstein said, adding that apparel is one category he wants to expand in Ziff-Davis books.

Other ad categories he's targeting include automotive, travel, financial services and airlines.

Another initiative Mr. Burstein spearheaded this past year was the launch of AdTalk (www.adtalk.com), a Web site offering tips and advice for advertisers as well as information on Ziff-Davis magazines and features like "Lunch With Larry," authored by Mr. Burstein.

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