BUSINESS TO BUSINESS: Print options - As the IT industry strengthens globally and strategically, new IT titles are competing for market share. Fran Littlewood reports

There’s a storm brewing in the IT business press as the cosy duopoly of undisputed market leader Computer Weekly and close rival Computing is being shaken by the arrival of CMP’s Information Week and, more recently, Ziff Davis’ IT Week. Industry observers agree there’s not room for all four, but it looks set to be a hard-fought battle.

There’s a storm brewing in the IT business press as the cosy

duopoly of undisputed market leader Computer Weekly and close rival

Computing is being shaken by the arrival of CMP’s Information Week and,

more recently, Ziff Davis’ IT Week. Industry observers agree there’s not

room for all four, but it looks set to be a hard-fought battle.



In the 1998 survey conducted by the information technology research arm

of the Banner Corporation, Computer Weekly topped the table, with 27% of

IT decision-makers in large organisations and 3% of those in small

organisations favouring the publication. Computing came in second, with

a 23% and 2% following respectively. Information Week stood in sixth

place with a 15% and 1% share of the spoils. IT Week has yet to make its

mark - it launched earlier this year.



Helena Sturridge, editor of Computer Weekly, is bullish: ’Computer

Weekly is the market leader. Our strategy is primarily to stay where we

are. The main thrust has been to be the best-read paper for users by

making sure we know what the issues are.’



But CMP is trying to hit where it hurts by launching a recruitment

section in Information Week. Because of the current skills shortage in

the IT arena, which has come about because of issues like the rush to

deal with the Millennium Bug and the push to ready systems for European

Monetary Union, recruitment ads are a significant driver in this part of

the market.



CMP group publishing director Paul Clarke says the company is rethinking

the market: ’Computing and Computer Weekly are in an interesting

position. The market has moved on considerably. IT strategy in the past

existed in a vacuum, now it’s more aligned with the business strategy of

a company.’ And he claims Information Week will tackle this.



All four players, along with other publications in the market, are

recognising the need to go global. IT firms’ centralised branding pushes

and ad campaigns, combined with the worldwide reach of technology and

subject matter, means publishers are having to think global. Computer

Weekly publisher Reed Business Information has struck a strategic deal

with IDG in the US to address this, while the new entrants have the huge

resources of their US parent companies to draw on. The globalisation

trend is also signalling the increasing importance of ’news wires’ -

online services which feed updated news daily - and all the major

players have now set one up.



IT marketers unanimously stress the importance of the IT press as an

advertising medium. PC Week, Network News and Network Week are also

pulled out as key reads in the Banner report, and IT marketers name them

among their chosen reading matter, and as ad placement targets. In

addition, ’thudware’, the huge monthly tomes such as PC Magazine,

continue to play an essential role in the marketing mix, believes

William Knocker, Compaq’s director of marketing services. An array of

other non-IT specific titles in the general business sector, as well as

the national press, are used by IT marketers to reach a wider

audience.



But opinion is divided as to the significance of the threat posed by the

internet to the traditional print field. Some argue that since news

which is updated daily, even hourly, is available on the net, there is

less and less reason for people to chew their nails until Thursday

waiting for an IT magazine to hit their desks. Knocker comments: ’Print

is still very important. There’s still a substantial place for printed

material, but the internet is being taken up very quickly and will

become more and more a way of life.’



Most agree the net will become a more potent marketing tool, perhaps at

the expense of some traditional media. But for the most part it will, at

least in the short to medium term, sit side by side with the press.



David Moore, Dell UK Direct and Ireland, says: ’The two are pretty

symbiotic - people use print and the internet for different things. The

internet is influential because it can be instantly updated, but we have

not seen (print) ad sales fall off.’ But he concedes: ’Over time it’s

possible that the internet will become the predominant source of

information.’



Andy Tait, Intel’s marketing and PR manager for Northern Europe,

believes ’there is room for both kinds’. He says: ’We use TV, print and

web - all three,’ and he argues they address different needs - if you’re

on the train you need a paper-based product, you can’t surf the web.



Media monitor

Magazine                     pounds ad revenue

                                 to August 98*

1 Computer Weekly                   10,105,000

2 Computer Shopper                   9,041,000

3 Computing                          8,404,000

4 PC Direct                          7,712,000

5 PC Magazine                        6,689,000

6 Personal Computer World            5,962,000

7 PC Pro                             4,696,000

8 Network News                       3,334,000

9 PC Week                            2,945,000

10 Network Week                      2,929,000

11 Information Week                  2,547,000

12 IT Week                             991,000

*Revenues rounded to nearest thousand.

Taken from rate-card. Including display, advertorial, supplements, review

ads.

Excluding all inserts Source: MMS Media Log

Net circulation to August 98

Magazine                                   ABC

1 Computer Shopper                     171,105

2 PC Pro                               142,160

3 Personal Computer World              138,228

4 PC Magazine                          127,244

5 PC Direct                            124,165

6 Computer Weekly                      119,595

7 Macworld                              33,024

8 Business & Technology                 21,236

9 Network Computing                     19,062



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