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Personalization Trend Extends to Print Magazines

Time Inc. has demonstrated surprising flexibility for such a media giant.  Seemingly fast-moving for what I imagine to be a corporate environment with many levels of approval needed, they’re changing the magazine landscape with two new print forays:

  1. MagHound
  2. Mine

logo_maghound_allMAGHOUND

Maghound is using the Netflix on-demand movie concept, but (obviously) for magazines. Spanning publishing houses (Conde Nast, Rodale, Hearst, Time Inc.), Maghound is like a virtual newsstand with home delivery.  Lori Lipson, Customer Experience Director for Maghound, spoke with us about the thoughts behind this media innovation.

Magazine companies are trying to fulfill the demands people have learned to expect through the digital experience, but deliver it via the print medium:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Control
  3. Choice
  4. Personalization

Maghound fulfills these demands, since the user can consolidate all their magazine subscriptions into one easy-to-manage account.  All your magazines are delivered to your doorstep with one monthly cost ($4.95/month for three subscriptions).  The user can change the magazines they wish to received as often as they want (so could get a different combination each month!), and also allows for easy address updates – priceless for those of us without a permanent home.

I see the opportunity with Maghound to live with the up and coming magazines.  For myself, I have subscribed to Glamour and Cosmopolitan for years, and recently received a gift subscription to the Rachael Ray magazine.  I plan to jump on the Maghound bandwagon, and stick with two of these (secret which two!) while perusing the site to figure out what new title to try.  I think many people will be in this boat – have two definite titles to subscribe and are open to trying a new one, especially since there is no year-long commitment (I believe my generation to be commitment-phobic).

MINE

Kris Connell

Kris Connell

Mine magazine is even more personalized than Maghound.  Trying an entirely new model with sole advertising support from luxury vehicle brand Lexxus, Time Inc. (partnered with American Express Publishing) offered consumers a magazine with chosen content and personalized ads.  Kris Connell, VP of Communications, Time Inc. took time out of her surely busy day to come and speak to us.  Connell has a wide variety of experience and now is in an ideal role as the head of internal communications, advertising and PR for Time Inc. (yet another woman with an inspiring career… and cute shoes!).

Thanks to Twitter, I’ve been on board with Mine since it launched and am the proud recipient of two editions.  Two, because the first run of the magazine suffered from a computer glitch, sending out the wrong combination of titles.  What could have been a disaster was handled well by Connell and her team, with an apology to consumers, an additional free copy of their “Mine” and the new, correct versions sent out.  The content available was pulled from eight Time Inc. and American Express titles: Travel & Leisure, Golf, InStyle, Money, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated, Time and Food & Wine.  While a digital or print edition was available, Connell said the majority of requests were for print; which is another indication that digital magazines are still working on acceptance.

This adventure in magazine publishing returned results far exceeding the original goals.  In a time when many advertisers are suffering and unhappy with their media placement, Lexxus definitely received their ROI.  When I asked Connell if this is a maintainable business model to be maintained past the free six issue trial period she said she’s not sure.

Is this a copyable ploy?  I think one reason of its success is the free trial, as well as the lack of creative content.  Since “Mine” is a combination of established content, it is free from the editorial process.  Could this possibly cannibalize the MagHound concept? Why would consumers want three separate magazines, when the key content could be in one?  We will have to wait and see if other media conglomerates jump on this nimble bandwagon…

Mine Magazine

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And it was Digital.  And Amazing.  And Beautiful.  In a Space-Agey, Totally Green Way.

I’m really not a Monday person, especially when I only have access to one round of coffee.  So I was somewhat a disenchanted with with the concept of sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair (sorry NYU) for eight hours with few breaks when I went to class this morning.  Until my mind was boggled with presentations and a glimpse into the future as seen by:

  • Steve Malley, Senior Deputy Editor, ESPN magazine
  • Robert (Bo) Sacks, Owner, The Precision Media Group
  • Jeanniey Mullen, CMO/EVP, Zinio
Pay-caption found on ESPN Magazine's site

Pay-caption found on ESPN Magazine's site

Malley presented first, and had a hard time containing his evident excitement as he shifted his weight and gestured wildly with his hands behind the podium.  He is the first Editor of the many we’ve heard speak who has put their digital content behind a pay-based wall: Yes, that means the content found on ESPN.com is no longer free (which is too bad, I really wanted to read the story about Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush).  Malley compared the current changed in the media industry right now to when Gutenberg invented movable type – so people, get ready for revolution.

Bo Sacks is impressive, having held what seems like every title available in the publishing industry (Twitter @bosacks).  Some of you may be impressed with his status as the Founding Father of the High Times magazine, but today he spoke from his position as President of the Precision Media Group.

It’s more important to know how to search for a fact than know a fact. -Bo Sacks

Sacks is omnipresent in ways, dividing the media as “BD” or “AD” – Before Digital and After Digital.  He showed mind boggling technology amid humorously photoshopped pictures (there were quite a few laughs of Einstein with an iPod, etc.).  The technology shown is light in weight, small in stature but is without a doubt changing the publishing industry: e-paper.

e-paper

e-paper

This foldable, bendable, light weight piece of space-age technology will in the future be a pocketable book, but for now ables the Kindle and Sony E-reader.  It is expected to have a virtual keyboard – as in it somehow reflects a keyboard onto a surface that somehow tracks your actions (crazy I know, I really can’t explain the concept, it’s akin to magic to me).

Crazy e-paper aside, Sacks says that while he doesn’t believe magazines should not be printed, he does think the physical editions will become more expensive and only account for 25% of the market within ten years.  Without a doubt, he believes competition to be redefined; digital publications to become stronger and more reliable; and the digital publishing realm to continue its advancements.  Senior management beware: put your palpable fear aside, Sacks thinks my generation is the smartest.

Who reading this had “paged through” a digital magazine? I’ve had very little experience with the medium and have always thought of magazines to be much more of an experience – glossy pages, perfume samples, vivid ads… That is, until Jeanniey Mullen of Zinio presented her site.

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen

As EVP/CMO, Mullen is in the ideal role at Zinio.  In an arena with plenty of room for growth, (unlike the cell phone industry which is almost at full saturation) she is at the forefront of a fast-emerging media – the digital magazine.  With printer and distribution costs on the upswing and weak advertising revenue, many magazines are struggling (some even closing, like Domino and Nickolodean Kids) at this time.

Not only are digital magazines more economically friendly (ie green, so automatically trendy), but they offer more opportunities for interaction both with the content and advertisements.  Mullen pulled up the Zinio-published women’s magazine Viv, and I was astounded at the potential.  Not only is the reader able to actually change the model’s clothes in a photograph, but the advertising content is able to be interacted with as well.  The ads change content within a brand, and even link through to individual websites where the featured product can be purchased.  Dior took the advertising a step further and embedded their TV spot with a corresponding print ad, along with a link to purchase directly.  Unlike traditional advertising, specific metrics are available!!!!!!

What’s shocking is that the digital magazine advertising is still considered in line with print – not a different, more expensive business model.  I see potential to change to a CPM business model as the digital magazine industry continues to grow, with potential for different advertisers to buy identical content that changes once a minimum number of impressions has occurred (does that make sense other than in my head?).   Now Zinio is a company for which advertising sales would prove fascinating.

Another really cool aspect the digital magazine realm offers: the ability to save interesting content!  I am one of those people who tears pages out of things I like – from fashion to recipes to editorial.  But, not being organized I don’t have a filing system other than “storing” the torn out pages in random locations, never findable when needed.  Being able to save content to my computer is totally different, and a concept I will embrace and keep organized!  Also, magazines are searchable, so you can skip directly to the content you want.

I already followed Mullen on Twitter (@empg) and was pleased to see she had tweeted during her time at NYU, which made me an even bigger fan.  I’ve already acted on her advice to try out http://www.goreadgreen.com and signed up a a FREE one-year subscription of Viv!  Go online and choose your subscription today, and take a look at Zinio.com for the latest and greatest digital magazines.  My new plan to fulfill my promise to get Dad an Esquire subscription is to do it through the digital medium; 12 digital issues only $7.99!

Though I abhor Facebook status updates, gchat away messages and the like, I’ve recently embraced Twitter.  Hypocritical? Narcissistic? Pathetic? Maybe all of the above?  So yes, my title “tweeting” is a verb.

twitter-pageDon’t judge, you can choose to opt in to my random thoughts, current activities, literary commentary and things for which I am thankful  at your will – no obligation here.  Twitter is a surprisingly simple social media network in which I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the content and users.

Give it a try – find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/novelwhore.

Everytime I endeavor to clean my room I get frustrated with the post-its I find, scribbled with some piece of an author’s name or book title.  Thinking there has to be a better way to keep track of books, I discovered (shout-out to my friend Kyle!) the Shelfari system.

Preview of NovelWhore's Shelfari shelf

Preview of NovelWhore's Shelfari shelf

“The Site for Books & Readers”, Shelfari offers a social networking component (don’t judge me for not having any friends yet!), as well as book rankings, reviews, and a way to keep track of what yourself and other users are currently reading, have read, or plan to read in the future.

I’m not even going to attempt to add the books I’ve read in the past, but starting from today, April 3, 2009, I am determined to keep my digital library up-to-date with titles I’m currently enjoying (eight at the moment) and plan to read in the future.  My public bookshelf is available at http://www.shelfari.com/novelwhore, or by clicking the link “NovelWhore’s Digital Bookshelf” to the left side of my blog.

So peruse the site, join, build your library and “friend” me!

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