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BusinessWeek gets update as ad sales lag

From Bloomberg News

BusinessWeek magazine is undergoing a face lift and adding stories on new products and personal finance in an attempt to attract readers after advertising pages fell 20% last quarter.

The magazine, published by McGraw-Hill Cos., began Thursday to update its logo, typefaces and graphics, Editor Stephen Adler said.

Now each issue will have three long articles instead of one, in addition to new sections. Lifestyle coverage will be cut and most columns will be moved to the back of each issue.

The changes mark a renewed effort by BusinessWeek to capture advertisers targeting affluent, educated readers, counter a drop in auto ads and define its place in a news cycle shaped by the Internet and 24-hour cable TV. The typical BusinessWeek reader is about 46 years old, with a median annual household income of $86,000, according to New York-based Mediamark Research Inc.

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“Business magazines want very much to remain relevant, especially with younger readers, and that’s harder to do,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva & Phillips, a New York investment bank focused on media.

Advertising sales at BusinessWeek declined about 15% to $67.7 million last quarter from a year earlier, the New York-based Publishers Information Bureau estimates. McGraw-Hill, based in New York, doesn’t break out the publication’s sales.

Business magazines have been hit by the decline in U.S. auto sales, which led to a 5.1% drop in the number of magazine ad pages purchased by the industry in the second quarter, according to the bureau.

Time Inc.'s Fortune suffered a 13% drop in ad sales in the second quarter as the number of pages sold slid 20%, the bureau said. Closely held Forbes and the Economist, partly owned by Pearson, bucked the trend and increased ad revenue by more than 10%. Industrywide, U.S. magazine ad pages declined 1.9% in the same period.

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The redesign is aimed at attracting a wider audience. The debut issue opens with an expanded news digest called “The Business Week” that is followed by a section of lighter, shorter items packaged under the heading “BTW” and previously called “UpFront.” A new “What’s Next” section focuses on trends and new products.

“Readers want good, clear summarization,” Adler, 52, said in an interview. “They want us to be an intelligent filter about what’s going on, about what’s important.”

The redesign attempts to further integrate the magazine with its website. BusinessWeek’s circulation is little changed from a year ago. Paid readers totaled 919,343 in the six months ended June 30, down 1.2% from a year earlier, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.


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