Magazines
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It’s mine, mine own, my preciousssssss. – Gollum

Time Inc. recently launched “Mine,” a magazine “made especially for you.” You pick five titles of eight available for the experiment, and you receive a magazine with content targeted based on your selections.

The site also asks some oddball questions, such as, “Which do you crave more? Sushi or Pizza” and “Do you sing in the car?” How this relates to content targeting escapes me. But it does give the PR about it a certain bizarre appeal and absurdist hook.

Lexus is sponsoring the initial round, advertising its crossover SUV and putting personalized messages on the print issues being delivered to the first 30,000 or so signing up (I’m one of them).

However, yesterday, I received an email letting me know that my “Mine” is off to a rocky start:

We want to let you know that a computer error may have affected the first issue you received this week. It’s possible that this issue did not contain the combination of magazine content you selected.

Like I could tell — which is always a main drawback of these content-mining efforts. How do you know what you’ve missed?

The whole thing seems more like a PR effort than any real attempt at creating an enduring magazine formula, but who knows? They might luck into it.

The Nieman Journalism Lab has a great critique of the first issue, well worth reading and complete with pictures of the artifact and the customized advertising (basically, they put your name in certain spots).

One odd feature is the age of the content:

The content is of typical Time Inc. quality (since it comes straight from their magazines), but it’s old. The main Sports Illustrated story is from last June, and concludes with a reference to “a World Cup qualifier two weeks from now” that was played June 22. An InStyle article is from last July. The main Food & Wine story is from the April 2007 issue, and one of the Golf pieces is also from 2007.

Why so out of date? I imagine Time Inc. didn’t want to give readers who subscribe to any of the other magazines pieces they already read last month. But it feels odd to be customizing with two-year-old features.

Print distribution for customized content seems like an idea whose time (about 15 minutes in 1998) has come and gone. But as a PR effort in support of an advertiser, this one has clever written all over it. Sorry, I meant, “Clever, don’t you agree, [insert name]?”

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.

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Discussion

1 Thought on "Is “Mine” Just a Stunt?"

“Interesting.”

I guess they can implicitly customize content based on your choice of magazines. (if you don’t choose Golf and Sports Illustrated, they probably won’t include articles about sports figures from Time in your package.) And probably can infer something from your choice of print or online, and of course where you live and your age. But the questions (pizza or sushi? juggling or celebrity impersonation?) reminded me of some New Age version of Meyers Briggs.

Interesting that they didn’t include some of their (more interesting) specialty magazines. I wonder what that suggests to publishers who might consider a similar strategy? Niche journals need not apply, or are too risky to include?

The date of birth question lets you say that you were literally born yesterday. But then they tell you you have to be 18. And then they block your computer from registering.

I signed up for the print.

John

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