Ann Moore Sees Time Inc.'s Digital Future

Includes 'People' Celebrity Database, Swimsuit E-Commerce and Google Photos

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NEW YORK ( -- Next week People will add a celebrity database to its website, with over 100 profiles updated in real time. When the 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue comes out on Feb. 14, Time Warner sibling AOL will post its first tied-in swimsuit-buying guide. And Life magazine is about to announce a partnership with Google to scan the magazine's photos back to 1936.
Ann S. Moore
Ann S. Moore

That was the news from Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore this morning as she gave the opening keynote at the sixth annual SIIA Information Industry Summit in New York. And it is good news for Time Inc. employees after a long company drive to cut costs, through measures that included eliminating hundreds of jobs, and redirect investment to core properties and (ideally) fast-growing digital plays.

A lot of work to do
But after a couple of years of flat to low-single-digit growth, Time Inc. needs to do a lot of work before it can pop any champagne, Ms. Moore said. Indeed, declining newsstand sales across the business and a shift by consumers and advertisers alike toward digital media continue to challenge print businesses.

"Magazine publishers need to accelerate their shift into digital," Ms. Moore told the crowd. For Time Inc., that partly means expanding the extent of each magazine's content online. "Our bet is that depth trumps breadth," she said.

It will also mean more experimentation, which in turn will mean failures such as the web-only Office Pirates, which Time Inc. shut down after just six months. Of course, Time Inc. doesn't call it a failure. "It didn't do badly," Ms. Moore said. "We killed it because it was never going to be very big, like big."

Video on
And though Sports Illustrated is beginning to pull in real money from online operations, it's as fertile for experimentation as any company property. "I do worry about video rights in sports," Ms. Moore said, alluding to professional tapes of games that are often shown on outlets decidedly outside the Time Inc. sphere, such as ESPN. She suggested that might instead find some strength and traffic by posting local and fan video.

Maybe that would work and maybe it wouldn't, but it seems like Ms. Moore is game to try out a lot of things and learn from any disappointments. "I actually feel embarrassed that we haven't failed more often," she said.

The conference, organized by the Software Information Industry Association, continues through tomorrow afternoon.
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