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.
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Why so out of date?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]?”