A Death for Yahoo! Internet Life

After struggling through two years of losses amid a collapsed technology
advertising market, Web lifestyle/culture publication Yahoo! Internet
Life is ending its seven-year run, its owner said.

In a memo circulated today, Robert F. Callahan, CEO of New York-based tech publisher Ziff
Davis Media, said the company would suspend publication of Yahoo! Internet
Life after the August 2002 issue. About 35 staffers are expected to be laid
off as a result.

The company said the decline in the tech market along with the collapse of Internet-related ad dollars proved too much of a double whammy.

“Advertising revenue in Yahoo! Internet Life’s category declined
significantly since last year. Its Year-to-Date market share decreased 52%
over last year,” the memo said. “Wired, its closest competitor demonstrated
a 53% decline and Time Inc. discontinued On Magazine (formerly TIME Digital)
last year, due to the diminished potential of the category.”

With an advertising base of about 1.1 million and a pass-along average of
about 4.6 million readers, Yahoo! Internet Life was one of the
largest consumer publications about the Internet.

But it was also in a kind of horizontal category, despite its vertical focus
on the Internet. The title often found itself competing for
culture/lifestyle ad dollars against titles as varied as Wired,
Entertainment Weekly and GQ.

And in a sign of the times facing many consumer-focused publishers, Callahan
also wrote that revenue growth for the title was showing no sign of coming
back in the months ahead.

The announcement follows Ziff’s recent decisions to shutter other struggling, tech-focused titles under its roof such as Smart Business, which it closed, or The Net Economy, which it sold (although both maintain an online presence). Although Ziff came close to a bankruptcy filing as a result of rapid declines in its tech-related ad dollars, it has been restructuring throughout the past year and half by streamlining titles, operations and debt levels.

Callahan wrote in the memo that Ziff’s “focus continues to be squarely on the technology and game markets,” where its PC Magazine and gaming titles are leading or gaining new ground in their respective categories.

The company said year-to-date, for example, PC Magazine has a 63 percent share of the ad market in the category, which is both business-to-business and consumer-focused.

A Ziff spokesperson said the company’s relationship with Yahoo! , whose name it licensed for the magazine, would continue in other arenas. For example, the two have a deal in which Yahoo! powers Ziff’s online conferences and
seminars.

Callahan’s memo also praised the title’s leadership and staff. “We believe the magazine, one of the highest-quality publications in the consumer technology market today, had heart, wit and spirit.”

In addition to PC Magazine, Ziff Davis also publishes eWEEK, Baseline, CIO
Insight, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Xbox Nation, Official U.S. PlayStation
Magazine, Computer Gaming World and GameNow magazines.

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