Stephen Adler became editor-in-chief at BusinessWeek last year by arguing that that the venerable magazine could benefit from taking the web “seriously,” according to an interesting FT piece. He then got to work. Adler ditched the magazine’s European and Asian print editions in favor of online ones, appointed a full-time online editor and got reporters to add additional content to the web. This year, 46 percent of the information on businessweek.com was original compared with 33 percent last year.
In addition, BW’s online presence has grown with more than 7 million unique visitors in August, its highest total yet. Even better, online advertising rose 61 percent year over year while print advertising remains largely flat.
The problem Adler faces is that lots of people are doing similar things. Dow Jones is pushing the online versions of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s along with MarketWatch. Yahoo recently added videos and other features to its popular Yahoo Finance portal. The New York Times has launched several high-profile blogs including DealBook, which looks at Wall Street. Google launched a business site earlier this year. Then there’s Conde Nast’s much-hyped Portfolio magazine, which next year will compete for the same readers and advertisers as BW. Plus, more original business news will hit the web if the stock market continues to climb to record levels. Looking up investment information is one of the most common reasons why people go online in the first place. Advertisers want to reach these surfers because if they have money to spend on stocks, they have money to spend on other stuff.
Financial services firms along with other advertisers are increasingly moving their money online. Both Dow Jones and Reuters said again today that web advertising helped their businesses in the third quarter. It will be interesting to see how much Adler’s original content push helped BW parent McGraw-Hill when that company reports results Thursday.