Biz books gain in 2000

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Ad pages in so-called new economy magazines climbed 120% in 2000 and ad revenues soared 189%. But those figures, which should be the envy of most any magazine publisher, may not be much consolation for those titles now grappling with a weakening ad market.

"The assumption was that what keeps going up will continue to go up," said Sheila Craven, president of ad tracking company Adscope Inc., who put together the report. "But the market for the [new economy] mags has started leveling out."

Ad pages and ad revenues for new economy magazines showed steady gains throughout most of 2000, compared with 1999, according to Adscope. But ad pages in the top six new economy titles fell 20% from October to December. Those six titles are: Business 2.0, Fast Company, The Industry Standard, Red Herring, Upside and Wired.

Slow start in 2001

Indeed, some of the same titles that enjoyed unprecedented growth in 1999 and 2000 took it on the chin in January. Ad pages for The Industry Standard, for instance, were down 57%, while ad revenues sank 25%, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. PIB said ad pages for Fast Company were down 51% in January compared with January 2000, while ad revenues dropped 32%. It was a mixed bag for another title in the top tier of new economy, as ad pages for Business 2.0 were down 22% in January but ad revenues grew 3%.

"What these titles are losing are the dot-coms advertising to each other and the supply chain companies chasing the dot-coms," said Martin Walker, a magazine industry consultant and chairman of Walker Communications. "Some of them may have to change their focus."

With the growth rate for b-to-b print products forecast to slow down over the next few years, new economy publications may sooner—rather than later—be forced to reduce their frequencies just to meet their previous 12 months’ growth, Craven said. Moreover, she said, "at least one or two of the titles will have to reposition themselves. I don’t know if they’ll go away."

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