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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

So I used to have quite the girl crush on Chelsea Handler (hilarious, clever and oh-so inappropriate), but now my tastes have matured and moved to these two emulating-worthy women: MaryAnn Bekkedahl, EVP/Group Publisher, Rodale and Jill Seelig, VP/Publisher, O, The Oprah Magazine.

Coming from a background in the creative/content-generating side of advertising, I admit to having had a somewhat snooty view on advertising sales.  After listening to these two women present, my views may have shifted to more of a “wow, I would love to be her in 10-15 years”.

Maryann BekkedahlMaryAnn Bekkedahl first got my attention when discussing the seven “media franchises” she’s in charge of, aka magazines (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention…).  But, in this age, they are much more than just magazines and have evolved into brand empires.  I have understanding and respect for brands more so than sales (sales people always have an agenda), but seeing how they’re so intricately connected had me at the edge of my seat.

“The Role of the Publisher” as Bekkedahl depicted really has control and responsibility for the brand/magazine.  The Publishing team is composed of the Publisher, with the Research, Marketing, Sales, Business Management/Production and PR teams reporting up.  I could do that- I want to do that; be the business side of publishing.

In fact, the Sales force is what really appealed to me among those divisions.  Dad always told me I should be in sales since I can convince people to buy things (he’s the perfect example, you should have seen my white convertible!), but I held such a negative stereotype I couldn’t move past.  Bekkedahl shot that stereotype out of the water as I found myself drawn to her earnestness and humor, thinking maybe I could do advertising sales after all…

Jill SeeligJill Seelig was the last speaker at the end of yet another long digital day, and I was seeing all sorts of pleasant images in my head instead of the screen (manicure, massage, wine… you get the picture).  She really got my attention (and adoration) by opening up her “Multi-platform Marketing to the Advertiser- the 360 Strategy” with the line:

Print is not dead; it is here to stay.

Seelig went on to support this statement with stats stating that magazines are the #1 medium of engagement, and there is an interdependency between print and digital.  Magazines contribute to the effectiveness of advertising when added to the media mix; and she should know, since she launched “O” as part of the Oprah Winfrey media empire.

Moving up through the ranks of ad sales in Self and Vanity Fair, Seelig helped instigate “O”‘s immediate success in 2000.  She presented a case study of Intel’s partnership with “O” and showed the magazine’s ability to make a (boring) technical brand be more human and emotional to her female readers.  She seems to be living the “O” tagline: “Live Your Best Life.”

Also, as a side-note, all the high profile people we’ve heard from have been very attractive and in good shape – is the magazine industry shallow; do they not have time to eat, hence the toned-ness; or do these people just happen to age well?!  None look old enough to hold their titles and have the experience they share!

All Webbed-Out: Summary of eight hours of digital content

I have had the most ridiculously filled day of digital content.  Of course it’s all new, all interesting, and all slightly overwhelming.  From discussing new business models, to Twitter blurring the line between social media and all media, along with insider tips on SEO strategies, I feel as if all my new knowledge makes me quite the digital princess.

During class my digitality (made-up word) began when Hearst Digital Media (yes, Hearst of the Media empire) was generous enough to share with the NYU SPI class three of their top officials to discuss “Websites Gone Wild” and “Get the Work Out, Get the Traffic”:

  • Chris Johnson, VP Content and Business Development, Hearst Digital Media
  • Beth Ellard, Content Director, Hearst Digital Media
  • Dan Roberts, Senior SEO Strategist & Analyst, Hearst Digital Media

The session with Johnson and Ellard focused on the different ways Hearts utilizes the web to drive traffic to their 12 magazine branded sites and 8 digital-only entities.  These 20 Hearst owned sites reach 10% of the total internet audience monthly.  This massive digital reach translates to about 1/3 of all their magazine subscriptions coming from the web80% of the traffic on their magazine sites looks at pure digital content; not the re-postings of print editoral.

Roberts is a self proclaimed “Data Geek” who has knows how to match Hearst’s content with what people search for, aka Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Hate to say it to you naive websurfers out there, but the first hits that come up on Google don’t appear by chance, but a well-orchestrated plan.  Roberts is a fan of NOW Media: More than the “new media” we’re used to hearing about, as that’s already dated, this is the current digital landscape that’s constantly changing.

Advantages of NOW Media:

  • Distribution has never been easier
  • We (my generation) are experts
  • We know what works

NOW Media reality/challenges:

  • Rules are constantly changing, techonology always evolving
  • There is micro-attention (aka Twitter) and mega-noise (digital clutter)
  • You can’t always control the message – your brand can be discussed in user generated content that is beyond your regulation

The digital-ness of my Wednesday was made complete (after getting lost on the Subway for an hour- DO NOT use Google maps for the NYC transportation system, it lies!) by attending Mashable NextUp NYC: Social Media Marketing 101 (thanks to @TheUndomestic!).  The two keynote speakers were obviously incredibly smart and web-savvy:  Steve Rubel (SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital) and Mashable’s Founder and President, Pete Cashmore.

Rubel spoke first on the five digital trends to watch (bear with me, my notes are quite scribbly after one very strong vodka soda):

  1. Satisfaction Guaranteed = Customer Service + PR: brands must audit online experiences
  2. Media Reforestation: Paper is going digital.
  3. Less is the new more: People are no longer gorging on media and often choosing selective ignorance.  More impotant than ever to shape search shelf.
  4. Corporate All-Stars: People within your company standing by your brand in the digital space.  Ex: @ScottMonty, as Ford on Twitter
  5. Power of the Pull: Write for searches, not for readers.

Then Pete Cashmore got on stage with his nice accent and talked to a panel of other professionals about their web opinions.  Wow they’ve done a lot for charity – check out and contribute to Charity Water; they’re doing incredible things.

Whew now time for bed, hopefully I’ll get to write up the other amazing speakers from Rodale, Seventeen magazine, Time Out, and People Style Watch tomorrow.

Today in class we spent two hours listening to the cutest pregnant woman give a two-hour talk about the launch of a new magazine.  Not just any magazine launch, but a new title that became successful in the midst of this recession, and the incredibly talented pregnant woman was responsible for this miraculous achievement.

Premiere Edition

Premiere Edition

Food Network Magazine is the title, and Maile Carpenter is the EIC who has managed to surpass the original estimate of 400,000 views to an astonishing 900,000 with only three issues having been published!

Coming from the successful launch of the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, Carpenter managed to find a hole in the already crowded cooking magazine market.  She was able to do this quickly with, what she notes, is Food Network Magazine’s major point of difference: It comes with a built in network of celebrities, from Rachael Ray herself, the Iron Chef, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen and more, along with their popular personalities, brand recognition and established trust and loyalty.

While this magazine is in partnership with The Food Network, it is not biased toward the show and its merchandise.  Carpenter and her small staff go behind the scenes and to write as if the TV station weren’t included in the name, such as the well-received article “Secrets of the Iron Chef” (appreciated by fans as well as the crew).  More than 100 recipes at all levels are in every edition, and while there is content available on foodnetwork.com, the companion magazine site is still under construction.

This “pop culture approach to food” has already been much more popular than original estimates, and after hearing Carpenter speak realize I am going to subscribe to this magazine as well (add it to my list, along with Esquire… Don’t think I can afford all these!), for the recipes as well as support of an admired talent.  To subscribe yourself to what I promise will deliver delicious recipes and mouth-watering food shots (Carpenter promises none of the spray glue tricks I was used to in advertising!), click here.

Additional thanks to the panelists in “Building a Brand: a Wheel with Multiple Spokes”:

  • Bill Stump, VP, Digital, Rodale: Made me excited about his/Rodale’s tactics of allowing inexperienced employees to generate videos for websites such as Men’s Health.  Emphasized to those of us entering the job market to attempt any task you’re given.
  • Gail Horwood, SVP Digital Programming & Strategy, Martha Stewart Omnimedia: I wonder how much personal impact Stewart has on her brand, but they are all quite successful.  Shared the secret that the craft section is most popular.  I believe it, there are directions to make a really cute message board in the June edition of Martha Stewart Living.
  • Frank Lalli, EIC, International and Magazine Development, Reader’s Digest Association; ED, Purpose Driven Communication: Reminds that you are your own brand. Spoke about launching the magazine/360 approach to Pastor Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life.  For Bible Studiers, obviously I’m not in the target.  Did get the chance to ask him why Reader’s Digest changed their cover design years ago from the Table of Contents and made it look just like every other magazine- he said the team thought it needed updating, while I thought it lost its identity and individuality.
  • James Jacovides, VP, Licensing & Syndication, Time Inc.: If you have any questions, ask him I think he thinks he knows everything.  In reality, he is very smart and he works for a very successful company and he knows it and isn’t afraid to share.  He discussed how magazines go international and the different methods Time Inc. uses to ensure an immediate profit.
  • Jaimee Zanzinger, Deputy Editor, Real Simple:  I personally like Real Simple, though it hasn’t helped me de-clutter my life.  Zanzinger spoke about their commitment to helping make an easy reading experience, from short articles to the included book mark and pictures that help tell the story.  Interesting to note, the photos in Real Simple are styled after every article is written, not scrap art.  Must be incredibly expensive for the shoots and talent, but the effort comes through in print.

Off to my first NYC party!!! Some launch for some music reality show from what my friend with the tix told me.  Concept sounds like it may be lacking, but I could use a few free drinks after these long days.  Woohoo.

NovelWhore Tweets

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