LOS ANGELES (AP) - After three-straight quarters of steep advertising declines, SmartMoney's print magazine is ceasing publication and switching to an all-digital format aimed at online users.
Dow Jones & Co., a unit of News Corp., said 25 positions at SmartMoney will be eliminated. It will increase SmartMoney.com's staff from nine to 15 editorial employees.
Dow Jones Editor-in-Chief Robert Thomson said the move will address "the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence" at a time of volatile financial markets.
The publication found that readers were increasingly going to the Web for up-to-date information and analysis. SmartMoney content will be melded more closely with MarketWatch.com, another Dow Jones property that is available for free online.
Dow Jones sells ads across several websites that it calls The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. The network includes sites for The Wall Street Journal, Barron's magazine and AllThingsD. Both The Wall Street Journal and Barron's require paid subscriptions for full online access.
Circulation at SmartMoney held relatively steady over the years _ at 815,154 per issue in the last six months of 2011 compared to 815,951 in the same period in 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. But ad revenue was dropping quickly. It was down 19.3 percent from the previous year in the quarter through March at $6.9 million, following a 22.3 percent drop in the quarter through December and an 11.7 percent drop in the quarter before that, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Meanwhile, ad revenue for U.S. magazines overall fell at a slower rate of 8.2 percent in the quarter through March.
Print publications have been losing revenue and readers as more content and advertising moves online. Some publishers have chosen to cut costs by slashing their print runs. This month, Advance Publications moved to lay off about 600 employees at newspapers in Alabama and Louisiana, including The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, as it prepars to cut the print run from daily to three days a week in the fall.
Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at The Poynter Institute, a prominent journalism school, said the change didn't convince him that the publication had a bright future because online ads typically generate less revenue than print ads.
"I can see the savings, but if their print advertising is still at a higher rate, the question is, `Where is the money coming from?'"
Merging SmartMoney with MarketWatch may provide some protective cover. SmartMoney had just 2.5 million monthly visitors, but MarketWatch's online audience has grown 50 percent over the last 12 months to 17 million, Dow Jones said.
The Wall Street Journal's chief revenue officer, Michael Rooney, said in a statement that SmartMoney's content and innovative online tools "will be a needle-moving addition to MarketWatch's already strong portfolio of content."
SmartMoney's last print issue, the September edition, will hit newsstands on Aug. 14.
SmartMoney was launched jointly between Dow Jones and Hearst Corporation in 1992. Dow Jones acquired Hearst's 50 percent interest in 2010.
Dow Jones said laid-off employees will be able to re-apply for SmartMoney.com jobs and elsewhere in the company.