An experimental foray into the world of blogging has come to a sudden end at Toronto Life’s online domain. Publisher Sharon McAuley says lower-than-expected traffic figures and a softening advertising market have prompted the Web team to take advantage of the “malleable” nature of online publishing.
The following properties are affected:
Obviously, one assumes, if the blogs were generating a lot of traffic, they’d still be around. “Given the resources that we have now through Google Analytics as to page views and time spent and the number of comments that are being made, we’ve decided that we need to tinker with [our strategy] some more,” says McAuley.
The current ad climate was also a factor, McAuley says. “I think the whole industry is grappling a little bit with what’s going on in the advertising world. The online world had always been forecast to have a greater ad-dollar growth curve than print, and our online revenues continue to grow [but not quite as much as anticipated].”
Reallocation of resources
She insists that these moves represent a reallocation of resources, not a removal. “In response to this [assertion] that it’s all slashing and burning and cuts, these decisions were actually intrinsic to the editorial process. The editors themselves made these decisions. If you ask them, [they’ll say] it was in response to the fact that we need to focus on the things that connect with our users.
"I can see that some of the timing might have been affected by the broader environment out there but the fact is these were editorial decisions alone. And it’s a redeployment of the dollars, not a cutting of the dollars because we are going to be launching new initiatives.”
One such initiative is a new reader forum to accompany the magazine’s August cover feature on violence in the city. And all of this is not to suggest that Toronto Life will remain blog-free.
“There are certainly ‘brand-name bloggers’ in Torontolife.com’s future,” writes Fox in an e-mail response, “though they will not appear immediately. One possibility is the beginning of a real estate blog, which may come on-line in the next months. I can’t confirm if it will go through, but it is an idea that is already far into development. In the new year, and certainly in the event of a re-design, there will be additional bloggers added to our roster.”
While McAuley insists that her online budget remains the same, one source who preferred to remain anonymous, said that to abandon two blogs (City State, Spectator) during their launch phases was a short-sighted and reactionary management decision.
McAuley, however, points out that both blogs were “evolutions” of products launched last year (Preville on Politics, Conrad Black Trial) and in that sense were products with an established past.