Expedia.com Books Ad Revenue With Magazine Startup

SAN FRANCISCO (01/27/2000) - Like offline travel agents, Internet travel sites make a commission on every plane ticket and hotel room sold. But beyond sales, an increasingly important revenue stream to Internet travel sites is advertising.

In an effort to capture more of this revenue and strengthen its brand across different media, Microsoft-incubated Expedia.com announced a partnership today with Ziff-Davis to publish a print travel magazine. The name of the new publication has not yet been determined, but it will follow eBay Magazine and Yahoo! Internet Life into the magazine publishing fray. Expedia.com also produces a weekly radio show that is carried on 60 radio stations.

"Through Expedia.com and Expedia Radio, millions of people see and hear valuable travel insights," says Expedia CEO Rich Barton. "Launching this magazine is the next logical step in extending our brand across different media."

The magazine will launch with a planned bi-monthly circulation of 200,000.

Expedia.com and Ziff-Davis plan to achieve some of those sales on the newsstand and some through advertising and direct marketing to Expedia.com users. The model for this kind of partnership is Yahoo! Internet Life, which was launched by Ziff-Davis and Yahoo! in 1996 and now has a circulation of 900,000.

Expedia.com's magazine will go up against Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure in the so-called "aspirational" travel market. An editor for the new publication has not been named, but Expedia.com already has an editorial staff of 13 that will contribute content to the magazine.

"The web and the magazine will seed each other," says Richard Banks, editor-at-large at Expedia. "The editor we hire will have a strong hand in crafting this thing."

Last April, Expedia.com surpassed Preview Travel and Travelocity.com to become the most-visited travel site on the Web. Currently, the site receives 4 million unique visitors a month.

The Internet travel landscape will change drastically next month, however, when a merger between Preview and Travelocity.com is expected to be completed. That merger will create an Internet travel juggernaut that will be one of the top five travel agencies in the world.

Preview Travel derives 40 percent of its revenue from advertising in part because it also contains rich editorial content. The merger is an acknowledgement of the importance of advertising in order to profit from the visitors that peruse the site, not just commissions from ticket sales.

Travelocity.com had almost no advertising, but strong technology and a deep connection to the massive travel database, Sabre, which used to own the company.

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