CAMPAIGN REPORT ON GERMANY: Tough business - Germany has enjoyed a boom in business publishing, but the party's over and that's good news for advertisers. Fiona Jebb reports

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago the business

magazine market in Germany was flourishing as companies both large and

small underwent flotation, dotcom mania reached its peak and the

investment community swelled by the day. Magazine titles multiplied.



As e-business and personal finance magazines proliferated, the

established players such as Capital and Wirtschaftswoche took the

redesign route to help them compete. Capital went from monthly to

fortnightly. A year on, the picture is somewhat different.



Although overall circulation figures for the last quarter of 2000 were

up, there was a marked tightening in advertising spend at the beginning

of 2001. 'The figures for the first two months of the year show a

downwards development,' Holger Busch, spokesman for the Verband

Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger, which monitors magazine adspend and

readership figures, says. He points out that 2000 was 'an extraordinary

year', not least because of the liberalisation which was taking place in

the energy and telecoms markets. Boris Schramm, the managing director of

CIA Mediahaus, puts it more bluntly: 'With world stock markets booming,

publishing houses earned their money but they didn't have to do anything

for it.'



Busch's prediction is that as times become harder, there will be

consolidation within the industry: 'The titles that will be vulnerable

are those which were launched during boomtime and are very much modelled

on the advertising market rather than on readers' needs.' Already the

e-business magazine Net-Business, pub-lished by Verlagsgruppe

Milchstrasse, has announced that it will return to publishing

fortnightly (it launched in January last year as a fortnightly and went

weekly last September). Milchstrasse said that the shift would put the

title on 'a solid economic basis'. Other pub-lications are also believed

to be vulnerable.



One welcome result for advertisers is that print media are showing more

flexibility. 'Magazines have already become more advertiser-friendly,'

Schramm says. 'But there's still a big difference between what you can

do in England and in Germany.' Magazines in Britain offer more

innovative solutions, such as special packages, promotional tie-ins and

advertorials, than their German counterparts. 'Most publishing houses

have not needed to show more flexibility,' Schramm says. 'But I think

that in the near future it will be important for publishers to work more

closely with clients to make their money.'



The harsh economic climate is a theme picked up by Olivier Fleurot, the

managing director of the Financial Times Group, which launched the

Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) last February. 'It certainly makes

life tougher in terms of advertising and obviously that's the case for a

new title. Today's market is more difficult than we expected,' he

says.



Schramm, and many other observers, believe that business magazines will

come under increasing pressure from TV, the internet and newspapers:

'When the stockmarket is volatile it is those media that can give the

immediate coverage the investing public seeks.'



Fleurot at the FTD is taking a long-term view. FTD's joint owners

Pearson and Gruner & Jahr have allowed two to three years for the

newspaper to hit a circulation of 120,000, the number they regard as

critical mass. Audited daily sales stood at 66,000 at the end of 2000.

Fleurot predicts about 70,000 for this quarter and 80,000 by the autumn.

This would represent the building-up in 18 months of around half the

circulation of the FTD's main competitor, Handelsblatt. But a far higher

percentage of FTD's sales are bulk sales (to the likes of airlines or

hotel chains) than is the case for Handelsblatt.



Most observers say Handelsblatt has been influenced by its

competitor.



It has upgraded published data, extended evening deadlines and undergone

a redesign. 'They say they haven't changed their strategy, that they

always intended to do what they did,' Fleurot says, cheerfully. 'But

they did in three months what they would normally have done in three or

four years.'



WIRTSCHAFTSWOCHE E-BUSINESS



More than a few eyebrows were raised when Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt

launched its long-heralded title Wirtschaftswoche e-business in the

middle of March. The launch issue ran to 50,000 copies and included 50

pages of advertising, with 22 issues being planned over the course of

the first year. The target audience falls into two categories which

Handelsblatt terms 'high Q' (young professionals who embrace the career

opportunities the new technologies offer) and 'high P' (established and

senior decision-makers). In targeting a younger as well as an older

audience, the glossy publication is echoing the trend for business

magazines to capture readers among those who are still on the way up as

well as those who have already reached the top.



Handelsblatt says that Wirtschaftswoche e-business is not a conventional

new-economy magazine. Rather it is aimed at those who operate 'in the

true economy'.



The launch, they add, took place in March because that was the launch

schedule, following on from the launch of the investment magazine Die

Teleboerse last year. One insider admits, however, that '(launching) six

months or a year ago might have been fortuitous'.



Others go further. 'It's highly risky and I would not have launched it

now. But I think they have been planning it since the beginning of last

year,' an industry observer says.



'They talked a lot about it and I think it is a question of honour in

front of (rival publishing house) Gruner & Jahr.' Another explanation

among the pessimists is that the Handelsblatt group has sufficiently

deep pockets to fund the magazine's survival through the hard times so

as to beat off the competition and achieve market leadership.



TOP SELLING BUSINESS TITLES

Title Circulation % difference Ad pages % difference

sold 99 99

Vermogensberater 1,172,513 13.1 n/a n/a

Guter Rat! 229,678 2.9 265.2 -10.0

Capital Hauptausgabe 228,315 -16.3 3,546.3 78.7

Borse Online 227,406 2.5 3,894.3 35.9

Geldidee 202,801 9.1 499.5 25.5

DM Gesamtausgabe 193,245 -0.8 964.1 -0.4

Euro am Sonntag 192,160 78.1 2,395.1 n/a

Wirtschaftswoche 187,260 2.6 6,639.9 21.5

Focus Money 148,934 n/a 2,456.2 n/a

Erfolgreich Selbstand. 144,400 1.5 n/a n/a

Source: Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger. Circulation figures are

for the average sales of one issue during the fourth quarter of 2000. Ad

page figures cover the calendar year 2000.



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