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Now, a portal for office-shy staff!

Time's new online magazine, Office Pirates, aims to draw desk-bound, bored young office staff.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 14:11 IST
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Time Inc

, one of the world's largest magazine publishers, is looking for desk-bound young men more interested in idly surfing the Internet than doing the work they are paid for.

Surveys suggest there are millions of them and Time's new online magazine, Office Pirates, has been custom-designed to grab their attention and with it a lucrative and relatively untapped advertising market.

The venture, launched on Wednesday, is a marked departure for Time, not only because of its Internet-only nature, but also its content which is far removed from that of most of the established publications in the company's stable.

On Friday, while the website of Fortune magazine offered a story on the most admired US companies, www.officepirates.com was touting a video titled GirlsinBras.

"Our target audience is young men at the office, while they're working," a Time spokeswoman said.

The man running the website, Mark Golin, has a proven track record of attracting the "fratboy" audience, having edited the US edition of the men's magazine Maxim, with its emphasis on scantily-clad models and often bawdy humour.

"It's less beer and babes and more the weird undertones that go on at work," Golin said of his new project.

Office Pirates solicits input from readers, including jokes, pictures of their meals in the "What's For Lunch?" section and photos of disliked office colleagues for the regular feature, BiggestJackass.

Most popular are the short-form video spots, one of which shows office staff hiding for a surprise party and then jumping up and shouting "You're fired!" when their colleague enters the room.

A selection of printable posters includes one of a depressed-looking office worker staring at a gun on his desk above the words "GO FOR IT!"

The business concept behind Office Pirates is that bored office workers who spend time surfing the Internet represent a large and largely undeveloped area of prime advertising real estate.

Advertisers traditionally try to reach their audiences at home, but the rise of the Internet has opened a whole new field.

"As more research comes out about how many hours people are spending during their workday online -- shopping, getting your weather update or whatever it is -- advertisers are wanting to get in front of those eyeballs," said Stefanie Smith, a senior reporter on the magazine industry at the trade publication Mediaweek.

"If Time can put up a property that will draw eyeballs in, the advertisers should follow. It's going to be an interesting play -- to see what the traffic is going to be and who the readers are," Smith said.

In a recent survey carried out by American Online and Salary.com, the average American worker admitted to frittering away more than two hours per eight-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.

Almost 45 per cent of the 10,000 workers surveyed cited personal web surfing as their number one distraction.

Office Pirates fully embraces its intended work-shy audience, even offering links to "timewaster" online games.

"It was our original intent to create a compact site that provided office-trapped guys with some fast, easy-to-find entertainment," said a tongue-in-cheek editorial note posted on the website.

"We now realise that this is stupid. What people really want are big sites/portals/all-encompassing experiences that they can explore for 72 hours straight while their lives fall into ruin!!!!" the message read.

The project is a key one for Time Inc. which has endured headline-generating layoffs and is looking to its interactive division to help bolster sagging morale and sluggish advertising revenue from men's titles like Sports Illustrated.

"It's being closely watched by the industry as a whole, as more and more magazines move beyond experimenting with the Internet to fully incorporating the web element into their business plans," Smith said.

Success for Office Pirates would be viewed with some dismay by employers already concerned about the amount of time staff might be wasting on the Internet.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines earlier this month when he summarily sacked a city employee without severance pay after spotting a game of solitaire on the man's computer screen.

"There's nothing wrong with taking a break but during the business day at your desk, that's inappropriate behaviour," Bloomberg said.

Time Inc hopes it will also be aprofitable behaviour.