The average technology magazine had 5.4% fewer ad dollars in the first quarter of 2003, compared to the same period in 2002. Meanwhile Technology Review, an MIT Enterprise brought in $3.085 million from ads, up 79.8%. This was partly an aberration, admitted publisher and CEO R. Bruce Journey, but only partly. "We changed the cycle by a week or two on our year-end double issue. So that put an issue into the New Year. But we're still up 8-10% per issue," he said.
The magazine is a wholly owned non-profit subsidiary of MIT, spun out of the school in October 2000. But the current version of the magazine was actually launched a year earlier. Journey has quadrupled the editorial budget and broadened the subject matter, adding fiber technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and energy coverage to what had been an information technology publication. (The magazine was also early in warning that the dot-com bubble was unsustainable, and this may have helped its credibility.)
"We think we're filling a void no one else is touching. We focus on high impact emerging technologies that will matter to business executives. Leaders are buying the magazine because they're looking for things that are transformative," Journey concluded.
Circulation is now up to 350,000, with an increased level of "C-Level titles" (Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, etc.). This has brought in a host of big brand ads from the likes of Apple, Morgan Stanley, even Porsche, said Kate Dobson, the magazine's vice president-sales and marketing.
Dobson pursues these opportunities with a full-time ad staff of six, mostly in New York, and a network of rep firms. "We had a top 10 list last year of companies we wanted, and we got 7 of them," she said. While most of the ads focus on corporate branding some, like a recent ad for the GMC Yukon, are focused on product," she said. "You can promote technologies with trade publications. We're promoting the understanding of them."
Technology Review is now selling a "digital issue" on CD and is selling Web-only subscriptions, placing some content behind its firewall. (Much of the site remains free.)
The MIT name helps, Journey admits. "When an envelope comes in your mail, with a special offer from MIT, people open the envelope. The MIT brand is very, very powerful, allowing us to tap into those folks."