Aviation Pub Flies With All Ads

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Aircraft Owner, a monthly buyers guide for aviation products and services, has taken off with its debut April issue.


The tabloid-sized free publication is a publisher's dream: a claimed circulation of 127,000 to a self-compiled, targeted list with all advertising and no editorial. Also, renewal is automatic as long as the recipient continues to qualify and does not want to be placed on the suppression list.


"What we're doing is to get the advertiser's message directly into the hands of the most qualified buyers," said Greg Herrick, owner, pilot, direct marketer and publisher of Aircraft Owner in New Brighton, MN.


Herrick's company of eight people identified 105,000 aircraft owners/pilots, 17,000 corporate flight departments and 5,000 maintenance and air taxi operators. Government lists of plane and helicopter pilot license-holders were massaged and machine-matched with people in those databases.


"Our message to the advertiser is that we're getting 100 percent of the identifiable market, if targeting the aircraft owner market is your goal," he said. "The good news is that we're not only reaching the owners, but also the fliers."


Some big names liked this concept. Aircraft manufacturers Cessna, Cirrus and Aviat along with Aeromedix, Goodyear Aviation, the Antique Airplane Association, Yankee Air Museum, Corbi Aircraft Sales, Aircraft Engine Specialists and Corporate Angel Network are charter advertisers.


Ad sizes include double-page spreads, full pages and classifieds. A section called Photo Listings shows four-color shots of individual planes for sale. Coated paper is used to ensure image quality and eliminate ink smudges.


A full-page, four-color ad for a 12-times-a-year run costs $5,535. The charter rate for new advertisers is a buy-three, get-one-free offer. Classifieds are $1.50 per word. Photo Listings is priced at $199 for a snapshot and 40 words of copy.


"What's really interesting is that we're working with our advertisers to customize inkjet messages based on the criteria in the database," Herrick said. "We can match the individual's name, including their pilot ratings, with specific information concerning the aircraft they fly."


All print ads will run for free on the companion site at www.aircraftowner.com. Visitors can place classified orders online and link to weather and flight planning services as well as the advertisers' sites.


Aircraft Owner, however, is not the only plane on the runway. Its closest competitor is Trade-a-Plane, a three-times-a-month tabloid. Like the startup, Trade-a-Plane carries only ads: 160 to 200 pages per issue. Trade-a-Plane does not disclose its circulation, though it is estimated at 44,000 an issue.


"One of the significant differences between us and the other guys is that we're controlled versus subscription and we're monthly versus three times a month," Herrick said.


The idea of Aircraft Owner was in incubation for 15 years. Herrick knows his audience. Not only does he own 40 aircraft, including antiques, he also flies them out of Anoka County Airport in Minnesota.


Herrick also presides over three catalogs: Historic Aviation, Historic Rail and The Civil War Standard. He previously ran PC maker Zeos International and worked for Meredith Corp. and Fingerhut Cos.


Aircraft Owner's model is not unique. Hemmings Motor News has little editorial but meets an important need for car collectors. Its 650-page-plus monthly magazine and site at www.hemmings.com are full of classifieds for cars and parts.


Aircraft Owner relies entirely on one revenue stream: advertising. There are no plans to rent its list. Because it is entirely advertising, the publication pays the higher Standard Mail rate.


"Our objective is to be as efficient as possible in delivering the advertising message to the buyer," Herrick said. "If we had editorial, obviously that would increase the cost of producing the publication and we would have to charge more for our advertising."


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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