Future of Business Magazines

(From the Future of Business Media Conference) These are rough notes, not quotes.

On panel: David Carey (president of CondeNast Business), Keith Fox (president, BusinessWeek), Paul Rossi (publisher of the Economist); Vivek Shah, (President of Fortune/Money group); Jim Spanfeller (president, Forbes.com)

On integration:

Fox: Our operations are merged — not perfect, but makes sense. Both journalists and sales people are integrated.

Rossi: We offer our customers whatever they need, if they want to purchase just print, we offer them print, we sell them just print.

On Conde Nast’s commitment to Portfolio:

Carey: Even in a bad year, we’ve done 700 pages. Online, the business has scaled well. 3 million unique visitors. Recalls Conde Nast’s purchase of Wired. Timing. Tanking. And today it’s incredibly valuable to Conde Nast.

On BusinessWeek’s social networking efforts:

Fox: Six weeks into it, it has met all the metrics we had for it. Right now, it’s news driven topics, but we expect it will be more around career in the long term.

On Business 2.0 closure:

Shah: We closed it but most of the staff became the tech bureau of Fortune — and that has been successful in increased technology advertising.

Random quotes:

Carey: On Portfoflo, the interactive features. On Wired, the how-to wiki has been an extraordinary success. Novel elements have really helped us.

Fox: Bringing the users into BusinessWeek.com has been successful. User comments, “in your face.” Measure some of those as key metrics of engagement. That’s outside widgets, podcasts, etc. But we’ve gotten rid of things that haven’t worked. With finite resources, we’ve pulled back from things — like lifestyle coverage.

Spanfeller: It depends on where people come from. You have to be up to date — instantly. The web is frictionless. The way people interact with a magazine is completely different than how they interact with a website. We publish 4,000 articles a day on Forbes.com. If we don’t push that number higher, then we won’t succeed.

Spanfeller: You can never have too much content on your website. The end user decides what they want to look at. It’s a limitless platform. You are only constrained by the resources you have.

Spanfeller: SEO is over-rated, but still important. People sample the site from different places and certain percentage them come back.

They all agreed, there will be a big media brand in the business space that will be gone in five years — or one year.

Shah: Brand vs. response advertising is the big debate taking place. Online display is supposed to be measure in “click-through” rates, but getting click-throughs is about like getting hit by lightening. However, on “search,” Google delivers metrics. We don’t do as good a job at providing the impact of display and image advertising.

Spanfeller: The horizontal ad networks has done something that is bad — drive the discussing back to cost per click. We need to move the conversation back to branding.

Carey: We’ve seen two types of clients: 1. Those who are looking forward to gaining market share during a thinned out advertising environment — they plan on increasing their ad buys; and 2. Those who believe the sky is falling.

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