Maghound offers magazines a la carte

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Time Inc. will launch — a membership-based magazine purchasing site — in September.

Maghound users pay a monthly members' fee, depending on the number of titles they would like to receive. The program currently has 280 titles from a variety of publishers, and members can order different titles every month.

“The goal, simply, is to expand print circulation, and we feel, based on testing, that we can bring incremental readers to each brand,” said Dave Ventresca, president of Maghound Enterprises Inc. “In addition, Maghound can bring in the right types of readers; we feel confident that it will deliver younger readers, who are more likely to be married, more likely to have children, have higher levels of education and higher household income levels than the general US population.”

Though Maghound is a Time Inc. venture, other publishers have been invited to join the service, with the rationale that more choice makes more loyal consumers. Time titles will, however, benefit from merchandising and special promotions on the site — as will other high-performing titles. Ventresca said he expects to have 300 magazines signed up for Maghound by the end of September and 400 by the end of the year.

Marketing for the September Maghounds launch will be largely through online channels, such as banners and e-mails. Once the brand gets better established, marketing efforts will expand to print, events, search, viral and gift programs. Time Inc. lists and outside lists are being used to target direct efforts.

“The key metrics that we're looking at are: costs per acquiring new members, how many magazines people are buying, how much they're paying and how long they're going to stay with the service,” said Ventresca. “We think people will stay Maghound readers longer because if you are subscribing to three titles [in the traditional way] and get bored with title C, you just cancel or let it lapse. If you're paying for three titles on Maghound and get bored of the third one, you're more likely to switch to another title since you're already paying for three.”

Three titles from Maghound cost $3.95 a month, five titles $7.95, and seven are $9.95. For more than seven titles, members pay an additional dollar per title. Around 10% of the titles on Maghound have been designated “premium,” based on their higher-than-average subscription pricing; premium titles charge an extra fee.

Magazines purchased through Maghound will be classified as single-copy sales in ABC and BPA audits.

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