DM News Absorbs Internet Sibling

Despite growing evidence of an economic turnaround, woes continue to plague the Internet-related trade publishing industry, as the owner of longtime direct marketing trade DM News looks to fold the publication’s Internet-focused sibling, iMarketing News and to shift coverage of the online sector back to its flagship weekly paper.

The publications’ publisher, New York-based Courtenay Communications Corp., said it plans on May 6 to merge the three-year-old iMarketing News into DM News‘ Web Marketing News section. iMarketing News had been spun out of the paper in 1999 as a monthly and expanded to a weekly schedule at the height of the dot-com boom a year later. But last year, slipping advertising revenue prompted a return to the monthly schedule.

Through the latest reorganization, iMarketing News subscribers will be moved over to DM News, boosting the 23-year-old trade’s subscription base by about 25 percent, to 50,000. At the same time, the iMarketing News Web site will be redirected to DMNews.com. A number of iMarketing News staffers will be cut through the reorganization.

While iMarketing News had largely suffered under the weight of the dot-com collapse — going from about 2,000 ad pages in 2000 to “four or five hundred” in 2001, according to Chief Executive Adrian Courtenay — the company said DM News had remained relatively healthy.

The news comes as the latest development in the shuttering and retraction of Internet-related magazines. Among the standouts, the Industry Standard has shut down and was divvied up in a fire sale, Upside relaunched after a reorganizational hiatus, and Business 2.0 was bought by AOL Time Warner and merged with eCompany Now.

Nevertheless, there could be a silver lining to the merging of iMarketing News with its offline counterpart, which comes amid growing support for the Internet by offline marketers and as a component of larger cross-media buys or marketing campaigns.

In the past week, both AOL Time Warner’s America Online unit and Web portal Yahoo have made staffing shifts to better implement online sales as part of cross-media buys. Recent studies fielded by both independent researchers and industry trade associations also suggest that the Web supplements offline media consumption and informs offline purchases.

As a result of such trends, Courtenay said he sees an opening for DM News to not only bolster subscriber numbers, but, by beefing up its Internet coverage, also to become a more important resource for the growing population of marketers using both traditional and online channels.

“It’s a very good opportunity,” he said. “Obviously, it would be disingenuous to say [the shift] wasn’t related to the bursting of the Internet bubble, but there’s another thing going on at the same time. Despite the well-known and well-publicized dot-com meltdown … the Internet is being increasingly accepted as one or more marketing channels, particularly by direct marketers.”

“It’s in recognition of this historical, evolutionary development,” Courtenay added. “It allows us to save money, and it’s related to fact that … we figure in many cases the same people are Internet marketers and direct marketers.”

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