Time Inc. Outlines Web Strategy

NEW YORK Having recently revamped Time.com, Time Inc. plans to focus on developing People and Real Simple‘s online businesses, Time Inc. chairman and CEO Ann Moore said.

Developing Real Simple‘s Web site will be one of Time Inc.’s priorities this year, and People.com plans to launch a celebrity database next year. The database will feature continuously updated celebrity profiles, data and original editorial content, Moore said in a keynote speech this morning at the Software Information Industry Association’s Information Industry Summit in New York. The SIIA is the trade association for the software and digital content industry.

“People.com will be our next big business online,” she declared.

Acknowledging that readership of printed magazines isn’t growing, she said, “We are not indifferent to total customer flight to digital. That’s why huge volume is absolutely a requirement online.”

To that end, as Time Inc. has begun to transform its magazine brands into online powerhouses, it’s focused on building interaction with online visitors and developing unique content for its Web sites. Thus Time.com’s revamped site introduced new blogs designed to encourage reader dialogue, and Life is talking with Google, Yahoo and other media companies about ways to monetize its photo archives, Moore said.

While Moore said Time Inc. still has a long way to go in the transformation, she claimed success with Internet efforts to date, noting that Sports Illustrated‘s online business contributed 14 percent to the magazine’s overall bottom line last year, and that Time Inc.’s financial news magazines have maintained strong Web identities since being collected under one portal, CNNMoney.com.

Among other lessons she’s learned in turning Time Inc. into a multiplatform media operation, Moore said companies shouldn’t be afraid to fail.

While Time Inc. pulled the plug last August on online men’s magazine Office Pirates after it failed to develop a big audience, she wished the company took more such risks. “It didn’t do badly, but we killed it because it was never going to be really big,” she said. “I actually feel embarrassed that we haven’t failed more often. It means we haven’t tried more around the edges.”

Moore’s speech follows the announced sale last week of Time4 Media’s 18 enthusiast magazines, as well as its parenting titles to Sweden’s Bonnier Magazine Group, and before that, the staff reduction of 289 people. (A total of 866 employees will have been dismissed since December 2005, with an additional 500 staffers leaving Time Inc. pending the sale of the Time4 Media and parenting titles.) Moore said the sale would allow Time Inc. to focus on its core brands, noting, “20 percent of our titles bring in 80 percent of our revenue and profits.”