By ROBERT GRAY, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 01 September 2000 12:00AM
The arrival of the internet prompted discussions of a paperless
society, yet the sector continues to generate a broad range of print
magazines devoted to enhancing the online experience. Global electronic
communications medium it may be, but those with an interest in all
things online seem to be just as happy to read about it through the
printed word as they are to glean information from websites.
In recent years, there has been a glut of internet-related magazine
launches from traditional publishers. There are now titles covering
almost every imaginable aspect of the internet. Broadly speaking, they
can be divided into three main categories: consumer how-to and
what’s-on-the-web guides; business titles focusing on specific areas of
commercial life in the new economy, such as marketing or securing
funding, and business titles covering the web in general.
The most recent addition to the broad range of internet business titles
is the monthly Business 2.0. This was launched in the UK in May by
Future Publishing, having first established its brand across the
Atlantic two years ago. The launch issue ran to 164 pages.
Next month will see the debut of another European version of a US
stalwart, the weekly title The Industry Standard Europe, which is
majority owned by the technology publisher IDG but also numbers Pearson,
the publisher of the Financial Times, among its backers.
Meanwhile, the doyen of general internet business titles, Red Herring,
which first emerged in the US in 1993, is boosting its international
By internet standards, Red Herring is ancient and often comes in at more
than 600 pages per month. Although it claims to have no intention of
producing a localised edition for Europe, it is building up its
editorial bureaux in Europe and is targeting European advertisers.
Even before it became more global in its outlook it had a considerable
’We are adapting Red Herring so that it is becoming more global and
relevant to readers everywhere,’ its international editor, Kenneth
’We start from the insight that technology is an ingredient for all
business and our model is that of the International Herald Tribune or
The Economist, rather than The Wall Street Journal or Business Week with
their separate editions.’
Maybe, but The Industry Standard Europe’s editor-in-chief, James
Ledbetter, argues that there is more than enough going on in Europe for
it to merit general internet business publications of its own. He says
his own title’s weekly frequency will be an important point of
It will, he adds, be much more news driven. Moreover, the intention is
to place news in a broader context and ’interpret and direct coverage’
in the manner of The Economist. Start up circulation will be about
Yet some analysts wonder whether there is enough room in the market for
several general business titles and whether some of the titles have a
clear enough focus on their audience.
Among the sceptics is Mike Jarvis, the media director at Banner, an
agency specialising in the technology sector. ’One of the big issues is
whether there is sufficient advertising to support all these titles,’
’A lot of the magazines have a problem identifying their market.’
Nigel Sheldon, a managing partner at MindShare, believes part of the
problem lies in the heritage of the internet magazine sector. ’It has
always been about presenting guidance and help for the new user,’ he
says, ’both in terms of getting on the net and as digests of interesting
sites to look at. As a result, there has been a ’me-too’ element to a
lot of the coverage, making it hard for titles to differentiate
Helena Sturridge, the publishing director for a group of titles at Reed
Business Information including Computer Weekly, agrees that there is
confusion as to who is being targeted by some of the more general
internet business titles. She wonders whether some have been launched
just because the sector is ’sexy’ at the moment and questions whether
the sector has a long-term future.
Not surprisingly, Sturridge defends Reed’s own product e-Business
Review, which goes out monthly to 50,000 of Computer Weekly’s regular
readership, plus a further 15,000 people identified as being a relevant
The composition of this audience is strongly weighted towards those with
decision-making responsibilities for IT procurement, making them
attractive to technology advertisers, Sturridge claims.
Sturridge also mounts a strong argument in favour of localised
’A lot of the Computer Weekly readership has told us that things don’t
always translate well to a UK audience. There is more WAP here, we take
on different business processes. So it’s important to look at things
from a UK perspective.’
Yet perspectives can shift, especially in the area of new
At the start of this year, dotcom mania was in full flow. Legions of
bright young e-entrepreneurs seemed to be on the verge of making
millions out of their internet start-ups. But by the summer, the mood
seemed to be changing. A number of companies went bust, most notably
boo.com. Suddenly caution became a watchword among investors and the
value of many internet stocks tumbled.
So does this signify that the boom is over? And if it is, doesn’t that
mean an ill wind is blowing for the internet business titles?
Ledbetter refutes this scenario. He asserts that, although a number of
dotcoms are coming unstuck, the prognosis for the new economy as a whole
is extremely healthy. ’A lot of the businesses that have attempted to
tackle the net have found it a black hole,’ he says. ’But we believe in
the bigger picture: that it will change the way Europe does
Clearly, one of the most fundamental issues for dotcoms and clicks and
mortar companies is marketing. Huge numbers of online brands have been
created and marketers have had to wrestle with the implications of
interactive advertising and one-to-one marketing.
This has opened the way for magazines specialising in new-media
The two strong players here are Campaign’s sister title Revolution and
Centaur Communications’ New Media Age. Both have carved out strong
positions for themselves. This summer Future launched into a narrower
niche with Cre@te.online, a monthly aimed at professional web
Venture capital and other means of funding e-businesses is another major
area of the new economy that has led to the emergence of specialist
business titles. In May 2000, Euromoney Institutional Investor launched
eVantage, a monthly publication focusing on this area.
’No other magazine is positioned in the same space as eVantage - the
financing of dotcoms and the strategic implications of the internet for
traditional companies,’ eVantage’s publisher, John Willis, says. ’Others
cover this sector as part of general news/information coverage - but
obviously not in such depth - or within publications providing a more
generalist coverage of the internet. Our research has shown that our
target market is looking for highly focused editorial addressing those
issues of key relevance to their businesses.’
Two thirds of its 20,000 circulation goes to senior executives at
dotcoms or traditional businesses with e-commerce activities. The rest
is split between institutional investors, venture capitalists, financial
advisers and bankers involved in consulting or funding e-commerce
ventures. The majority of the title’s distribution is in Europe, but 28
per cent goes to the US and 4 per cent to Asia.
However, perhaps the most competitive sector of the market is among
those titles aimed at the consumer, with publishers including Future,
Paragon, Haymarket and Emap all battling for readers.
Paragon alone has four titles in this heavily contested sector: Internet
Made Easy, Web Pages Made Easy, Practical Internet and What’s
Combined, these have an ABC of below 100,000 and are finding the going
fairly tough. One reason for this is the success of titles such as VNU’s
Computer Active, a consumer computer magazine that devotes a large part
of its editorial mix to the internet and boasts a circulation of more
’Magazines like Computer Active have a lot of internet content and that
has affected us and Future, and everybody else in the sector,’ Paragon
Publishing’s managing editor of internet magazines, Geoff Harris,
Although Haymarket with the net, Future with .net and Emap with Internet
magazine have similarly titled products, publishers are also starting to
develop more tightly focused niche titles.
Sheldon believes that this trend will continue as the target readers
become more mature users of the net. ’The challenge now will be to cater
for the significant numbers of internet users who require more than just
basic information,’ he says. ’Especially as this is now readily
available from the national press.’
Future has been the most aggressive in this respect. It has launched
Internet Investor, which, as its name suggests, is targeted at those
buying and selling shares online. In April this year it brought out MP3
to focus on the ’internet music revolution’ and in July it premiered WAP
- Mobiles, the Internet & Beyond to appeal to readers with an interest
in the convergence of cellular phones and the internet.
According to the net’s publishing manager, Sharon Todd, ever greater
leisure use of the internet is helping the expansion of the internet
magazine marketplace. But clearly publishers are having to respond to
changing usage patterns and the impact of new technologies.
It is inevitable that more and more specialised publications will be
launched in the coming months and years. As any marketer with more than
a passing acquaintance with the web will tell you, one of its
outstanding virtues is its potential for extremely well-targeted
THROUGH THE PORTAL
Claire Butcher, the media director at Ogilvy Primary Contact, takes a
tour of UK publishers’ online sites.
The five major IT publishers all have significant interactive
There are others, reaching the same audience, that should also be
mentioned in any comprehensive study - silicon.com, CNET.com (US based),
IT Network (now linked with computerweekly.co.uk), ITportal.com and
Originally started as a portfolio of magazine websites, recent
investment and promotion of the site means it is now much better
organised. It gives the latest news, searchable archives, a big
recruitment section and much more. Like computerweekly.co.uk, it is for
serious professionals reading VNU titles such as Computing and CRN.
Traffic is increasing and June figures are claimed to be around 500,000
unique users and two million page impressions.
Spun out of Reed’s weekly title for IT professionals, the site is also
specifically targeted to this niche audience. There are no gaming
channels here, just good up-to-date IT news and an impressive and easily
searchable archive, plus useful subjects such as training, recruitment
and IT security.
Very functional and informative. Figures for June are given as 143,807
unique users and 1,213,015 page impressions.
A technology site - launched by Ziff Davis and now owned by CNET.com -
appealing to a wide audience ranging from teenage gamers to senior IT
professionals. ABC Electronic’s March 2000 audit shows 1.2 million
unique users and 10.3 million page impressions.
Channels include News, IT in the Enterprise, MP3, Games and
Particularly useful is the software library (more than 40,000 downloads)
and Netbuyer, ZDNet’s comparative shopping channel. It is hard to
believe any user would need to go anywhere else unless they were
overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information here.
Imported from Future in the US, but running 80 per cent UK content, this
new gaming portal is radically different from Future’s other
magazine-linked sites. It consists of five channels - PC, Sony,
Nintendo, Sega and Showbiz - with additional content provided by
affiliates. First figures for June are showing 452,658 unique users and
2,858,726 page impressions.
A great site for their 97 per cent male, 16- to 30-year-old
Not a portal as such, but a portfolio of magazine-related websites:
computershopper.co.uk, computerbuyer.co.uk; macuser.co.uk; pcpro.co.uk;
dreamcast.co.uk, and pczone.co.uk. Figures vary from computerbuyer’s
29,992 June visitors and 804,376 page impressions to pcpro.co.uk’s
114,522 June visitors and 4,334,682 page impressions.
A basic entry-level approach, it will be interesting to see if Dennis
develops a more interactive portal covering the IT communities it
understands, such as SoHo and Mac users.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk