Time gets creative

March 23, 2009

In another case of taking what works in digital and trying to shift it back to print, Time is offering (American) readers a unique take on magazines: pick your top five out of their list and they’ll put together a print or digital version using all five and send it to you every two weeks, starting in April. They’re calling it Mine, emphasizing the personalized nature of the product.

Technically this is limited to US residents, but I faked an address to sign up for a digital version. It would probably work for you too, you just have to enter your favourite state and zip code. I’d love to see a print version but I doubt they’d actually mail me one.

This is, of course, an exclusive partnership with an advertiser – Toyota, promoting its new customizable Lexus (you see the relationship?). According to an article in the Globe, there are 56 possible editorial combinations, and if you answer the extra questions (four silly ones – I think they could have done better) the ads will be personalized as well:

A sample ad tag line for a respondent named Dave, who lives in Los Angeles and eats sushi, might read: “Hey Dave, your friends will be really impressed when you drive down Van Ness Avenue on your way to get sushi.”

I think this is an interesting experiment and since it’s free, a great way to expose readers to different Time brands that they may not normally read. But it seems a bit gimmicky to be a long-term strategy for creative ways to increase online ad revenue, especially if readers aren’t paying for it. I love the idea of being able to get smaller amounts of content from a variety of publications that’s targeted to my interests – the automated equivalent of that friend who sends you links to interesting articles. But I don’t really want that in print format, let alone in digital edition format. Print, to me, is about creating a complete package that resonates with the reader. The web is the perfect format for bite-sized pieces of content from a multitude of sources. But this is in-between – it’s from too many different editorial sources to be a coherent whole as a print magazine, but from too few sources to be really targeted to readers’ interests.

But enough about me. What do you think?

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