Revamped ‘Bloomberg BusinessWeek' gets positive reception

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The long-anticipated redesign of Bloomberg BusinessWeek received a generally positive reception from media observers and media buyers after its official debut last week.

Bloomberg received kudos for investing in the print product with the redesign itself, higher-quality paper stock and a guarantee of a greater number of editorial pages than BusinessWeek had printed under previous owner McGraw-Hill Cos.

Observers say that under Bloomberg, which is able to tap its vast network of more than 2,000 reporters around the world, the magazine's editorial quality is as good or better than it was before. People are expecting the editorial to improve even more as the Bloomberg team, led by new Editor Josh Tyrangiel, establishes its footing.

Reed Phillips, managing partner of DeSilva & Phillips, said the content quality got better immediately, “like they flipped a light switch” when Bloomberg took over last December.

Since Bloomberg L.P. had been publicly previewing the redesign concept since March, there were few surprises with the latest issue, although the appearance of more than 30 b-to-b-specific advertising pages, about five times the number as in the previous issue, stood out.

David Rowe, VP-media director at Doremus, said that, at least for his small-business clients, Bloomberg offered to run ad pages scheduled for BusinessWeek SmallBiz in Bloomberg BusinessWeek at SmallBiz ad rates. SmallBiz, which folded at the end of last year, was a bimonthly with a rate base of 675,000; BusinessWeek has a rate base of 900,000. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek executives declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Chris Philip, chief experience officer at Doremus, commented that the number of b-to-b-specific ads in Bloomberg BusinessWeek “didn't matter” in his view. As the editorial becomes more in-depth and global in scope due to Bloomberg's reporting organization, “that's going to set them apart from the competition,” he said.

Frannie Danzinger, senior VP–media, North America, for GyroHSR, is also “thrilled” with the changes Bloomberg has instituted. After what she termed a “disconcerting 15 months” for the brand, she said the changes were “a sign of life. Smart marketers want to see their message in an environment that has vitality, a core strength of audience reach and high credibility with its readers and their peers. BBW is doing this in a very big way.”

In a market that lost 45% its advertising pages between 2005 and 2009, from almost 9,800 to about 5,100, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures, perennial No. 3 BusinessWeek increasingly fell behind. In 2005, it lagged then-leader Fortune (with the inclusion of Fortune Small Business pages) by 25%; in 2009, BusinessWeek trailed No. 1 Forbes by 36% and the Fortune brand by 35%. Pages for BusinessWeek Small Biz were not broken out by PIB, and Fortune Small Business was shuttered around the same time as SmallBiz.

Under its new ownership, Bloomberg BusinessWeek may take a run at No. 1, said Michael Parker, managing director at AdMedia Partners. With the chairmanship of Bloomberg BusinessWeek in the hands of Norman Pearlstine—a former editor at The Wall Street Journal and Time Inc., who joined Bloomberg L.P. in 2008 as chief content officer—“it's a strong possibility” that the company wants Bloomberg BusinessWeek to get to the top position, he said.

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