Consolidation hits Web magazines

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Consolidation hits Web magazines

By Jane Hodges

If you think it's been a tough year to build an online brand, try building a consumer magazine about the online world.

The latest apparent victim of consolidation: Virtual City. The quarterly publication, a joint venture between Newsweek and San Francisco-based Virtual Communications, is set to become part of International Data Group's The Web, which launches next month.

MAGAZINE TO FOLD INTO 'THE WEB' IDG was in talks last week to acquire Virtual City, which launched last September. If the deal is completed, IDG will fold the magazine into The Web, bringing Virtual City's Publisher-Editorial Director Jonathan Sacks and Editor Lewis D'Vorkin onto the masthead as creative consultants.

Newsweek would work as a partner with IDG on the publication. Virtual Communications' equity in the deal was unclear at press time; executives didn't return calls for comment.

Time Inc., however, is forging ahead with its techno-title, Time Digital, which rolls out a 250,000-issue test on newsstands in October. It plans to bump up to every-other-monthly in 1997.

Still, technology publishers are using the Virtual City example to show they are better suited to pitch a Web magazine to consumers than consumer publishers are.

TECH TITLES GAIN AD PAGES The Summer 1996 issue of Virtual City carried more than 40 ad pages; IDG's The Web is still signing advertisers, but its launch issue will have at least that many pages, with 75% coming from typical technology marketers and 25% from liquor, auto, finance and fashion advertisers. Color ad page rate is $5,800.

"I know Virtual City pretty well, and they were focusing on lifestyle issues surrounding the Web," said Greg Mason, publisher of The Web. "We're covering general interest and pop culture--as seen through the lens of the Web."

Yahoo! Internet Life, from Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., goes monthly with the September issue, on newsstands this week, and doubles its rate base to 200,000. A color page ad is $7,000; the September issue will carry 45 ad pages.

Ziff also acquired the monthly Internet Underground in May and is pitching it to a Generation X crowd, said Dan Rosensweig, exec VP of Ziff's Internet Publishing Group. The title will carry more than 50 ad pages in its September issue.

Meanwhile CMP Media's NetGuide tallied 435.7 ad pages for the first six months of 1996, up 33% from the same period last year.

Copyright August 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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