Forbes could see the text messaging on the wall: The days of separate digital and print sales are numbered, the publisher believes. So earlier this year, it began merging its print and online operations.
So far, most clients and agencies have applauded the move, said Jim Spanfeller, president-CEO of Forbes Digital.
“We feel more than vindicated by our strategy [of previously keeping them separate],” Spanfeller said. “It allowed the Web site to blossom on its own. It also had a boomerang effect.”
The site in recent years fed print sales and subscriptions, which Span--feller credits for the magazine's 42.7% market share in competition with Fortune and BusinessWeek, according to MRI figures for the fourth quarter. That's the largest market share in Forbes' history.
Phone: (212) 366-8900
Traffic: 18.6 million unique monthly visitors++
Ad revenue (print): $338 million*
Ad revenue (online): N/A
Ad rate (print): $114,509 for 1 page 4/C
Ad rate (online): $120 CPM
Comment: Forbes, in both its print and Internet incarnations, remains a force to be reckoned with. Forbes.com has been a pioneer in recognizing the value of aggregating business content online.
Economically, the merger of print and online makes sense. Revenue for the magazine was $55.6 million in the first quarter, down 8.8% from a year earlier, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Ad pages declined 15%. Internet sales are expected to be close to flat this year, Spanfeller said.
The integration also “makes nothing but sense from a client perspective,” said David Rowe, VP-media director of b2b agency Doremus, who said it provides a great way to reach a total audience for a brand.
Meanwhile, Forbes Digital expanded its money-back brand-increase guarantee for advertisers to include reach and frequency numbers.
Vickie Szombathy, VP-media director at Spark Communications, said she appreciates “more than the absolute results” from the brand-guarantee studies. When her client technology company Avaya has advertised on Forbes.com, one of the best benefits was “the content about how [Forbes readers] feel about the [advertiser's] brand that gives us more insight,” she said.
Forbes in the last year has continued to build out its many online media channels, adding 100 new video segments a week to its site. New content areas include: the CMO Network; ForbesWoman (which debuted in print and online); Intelligent Investing, a program featuring Steve Forbes interviewing high-profile investors; and the Financial Advisor Network.
Its alternative ad platforms are also “starting to get nice traction,” Spanfeller said. The Forbes Audience Network is an internal ad network that offers inventory across Forbes.com, Forbes Autos, Forbes Traveler, Investopedia, Clipmarks, RealClearPolitics, RealClearSports. It also sells advertising across a network of 1,300 business and finance blogs. “We're at different stages of testing, and folks who have found success have upped their spending,” he added.
In March Forbes.com had 18.6 million monthly unique visitors, according to Omniture. Spanfeller estimates that all of Forbes' media properties combined reach 50 million worldwide on a monthly basis. “That's a third of decision-makers. Most folks are looking for some subsegment of that,” he said, which Forbes can target in countless ways online or off. “Right out of the gate, we make your media dollars work twice as hard.”