Busiest magazine websites

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BusiestMagazineWebsitesThe idea to kill Newsweek.com after the magazine merged with the Daily Beast struck many industry observers as an odd decision. If Newsweek.com had more monthly unique visitors than the Daily Beast, why only place new content on the Daily Beast site? The reason could be that visitors to the Daily Beast site return more frequently and stay longer, Ad Age recently reported. However, according to a more recent Twitter post from Beast editor Tina Brown, “Newsweek.com’s superb content will live on under its own banner and in URLs on the new site. Not shutting down, combining.” This decision might mean that advertisers care about unique monthly visitors as much as reader loyalty.

Since Newsweek.com’s uniques totaled around 5 million, we decided to take a look at a few of the top magazine websites to see how they compare (which is tricky since these numbers change from month to month). What’s interesting is that a majority of the top sites are TIME Inc. properties. In 2007, they decided to sell off 18 magazine titles that were not doing well online. Under the direction of then-CEO Ann Moore, resources were invested in brands that were attracting audiences online, according to Charles Hill and Gareth Jones’ book, “Strategic Management.”

Now, in 2010, it looks like those investments have paid off. The top two sites are Time.com and People.com. Here are the 25 most-visited magazine websites by monthly unique visitors *:

  1. People.com
  2. Time – Online
  3. Forbes – Online
  4. New York Magazine – Online
  5. BHG.com
  6. Newsweek – Online
  7. MarthaStewart.com
  8. PC World – Online
  9. Real Simple – Online
  10. AARP Bulletin – Online
  11. Consumer Reports – Online
  12. Bloomberg BusinessWeek – Online
  13. Elle – Online
  14. Entertainment Weekly – Online
  15. Parents – Online
  16. Playboy.com
  17. Reader’s Digest – Online
  18. Bon Appétit – Online
  19. Woman’s Day – Online
  20. Billboard – Online
  21. TheAtlantic.com
  22. Cosmopolitan – Online
  23. Men’s Health
  24. Food Network Magazine
  25. PC Magazine

Condé Nast has also invested in reallocating its resources, albeit from the sales side. After it hired consultants from McKinsey & Company, Condé Nast Digital’s sales team was divided into five brand categories, taking the emphasis off the magazine’s websites as “companions” to the print editions. For example, Men.Style.com became GQ.com, which has about 182,695 unique visitors each day.

Last year, 247wallst.com ranked the top 25 magazine websites and stated that “Digital content is threatening print editions of magazines the same way it is undermining the success of newspapers.” This may be the case with certain genres of content. It is certainly not the case with all magazines and digital content. The Economist has seen their circulation boom during a down economy, as well as Food Network Magazine, which increased 25 percent in the last 12 months. Both also have unique monthly visitor counts of more than 1 million.

It will be interesting to see, going forward, which type of content advertisers find the most appealing – the type that attracts more eyeballs who leave quickly or the type that attracts fewer eyeballs but for longer periods of time. The editorial content will likely adapt to whichever comes out ahead.

*As a footnote on these numbers, they not only change widely from month to month, but can vary depending on which source you use – whether it’s ComScore, Compete, Nielsen, or Omniture. The above rankings were based on numbers from ComScore and Compete.

— Rebecca Bredholt

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