Publishing Innovator of the Year: Time Inc.
When TIme Inc. was presented with Publishing Executive’s Publishing Innovator of the Year award during a special reception at the 2008 Publishing Business Conference & Expo last month, it was a recognition of more than just a few good ideas. For the nation’s largest magazine publisher, being on the leading edge means competing successfully on a playing field that did not even exist a few years ago, leveraging cherished brands to build new readers in a media world where many publishers find themselves fighting institutional inertia and struggling to remain relevant.
For Time, the winning formula has come from a simple recognition that the desires and habits of the consumer need to be respected and catered to. Such is the philosophy behind its upcoming Maghound service, set to launch in September, which will allow consumers to mix and match magazine subscriptions online, changing what they receive whenever they please, for one monthly fee. Maghound will initially offer print subscriptions only, says Brian Wolfe, Time Inc.’s president of consumer marketing, but he notes that digital publications could be added in later versions. Another Time service, Giftscriptions, in operation since 2005, offers an easy way for customers to give magazine subscriptions as gifts. The package can be ordered online or picked up at national retail bookstores, and includes a gift box and catalog, from which the recipient can pick the publication she or he wants.
One of the ground-breaking elements of both the Giftscriptions and Maghound services is that Time Inc. looked beyond its own walls to partner with other major publishers to offer industry-leading services with maximum benefit to consumers.
“[These services] indicate two things about our strategy,” says Wolfe, who accepted the award on behalf of Time Inc. at the reception. “[We] try to meet unfulfilled customer needs, and build subscription programs that save consumers valuable time and allow them to take advantage of the Internet to improve their magazine experience. Both programs are excellent marketing tools because they are all about satisfying customer needs.”