Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking BusinessWeek

Check your newsstand for the August 3rd issue of BusinessWeek. No, the cover story isn’t the story (“The Incredible Shrinking Boomer Economy”) – even though it’s a very interesting read, especially to me (a boomer), and the reporting continues to rank among the most thoughtful in the business media. It’s the size of the publication itself, indicative of where the media and advertising dollars that support it are going – online. I counted 11 full pages and a few partial pages of advertising, not including the cover positions, that are attempting to pay the freight. When I saw the cover I did a double-take and wondered if it was a Freudian slip. I owe much of my business knowledge to reading BusinessWeek from cover to cover each week for years when I first entered business. Now I usually peruse the publication online since I don’t have the time to leisurely stroll through it myself. Apparently so do tens of thousands of others.

In fact, BusinessWeek’s print circulation continues to hover on or about 900,000, while its online readership continues to modestly grow (to 3.5 million unique visitors, up 1% from last year), as Nat Ives recently reported for Ad Age. With BusinessWeek’s future at stake as McGraw Hill seeks a buyer, even one of its own reporters, Bruce Nussbaum is brainstorming about what business model would work to keep it in business – a hybrid subscriber/advertiser model highlighted by “curated” conversations by smart editors or participants on business issues, or an elite subscriber print magazine at a higher fee.

In fact, most media consumption is going online – even for C-level executives – as my colleague Ken Makovsky wrote recently in his blog. A Forrester Research report earlier this year attested to the fact that BtoB marketers are racing to make up for lost time in adopting social media marketing into their plans -- 91% of of those who make buying decisions in the BtoB technology sector read blogs and watch user-generated video.

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