NEW YORK: The erosion of audience share by online media has focused the attention of venerable long-running US news weeklies Time and Newsweek on the modus operandi of UK-headquartered The Economist.

Unlike many other business-oriented publications on both sides of the Atlantic, Time and Newsweek have remained relatively aloof from online journalism. As has The Economist.

Difference is that the latter is burgeoning while the former languish.

The British import's stateside sales and advertising have grown rapidly over the past decade, propelled by its global editorial stance and shrewd marketing. It has also undergone a fundamental redesign and cut its base advertising rates.

And although its US circulation (circa 747,254) is below that of its two rivals, The Economist's audience is notably younger and wealthier, according to TNS Media Intelligence, thereby attracting different categories of advertisers – notably business and technical, financial and educational.

All of which has been carefully noted by Time and Newsweek – and to some extent emulated. Now the duo plan to match their British rival in other ways.

Newsweek is reportedly planning major changes and further ad rate reductions in 2009, although it declines to elaborate on detail.

However, magazine strategy consultant Martin Walker warns that such changes in pursuit of a richer, younger audience, although having benefited The Economist, could backfire on the US duo.

As he points out:  "[Time and Newsweek] get the pharma and auto [advertising] because of their circulation. As they move [it] down, it makes it hard to reach their numbers."

Walker also queries the wisdom of the duo's attempt to move upmarket: "Time and Newsweek are Macy's; The Economist is Bloomingdale's." 

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff