Reader's Digest Finds Pipeline to New Homeowners

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When Reader's Digest debuts New Homeowner magazine in April, it won't have to wonder whether the publication is reaching its target audience thanks to a distribution deal with Cendant Corp.

"The distribution is through a touch-point marketing program designed by Cendant with their Century 21 and ERA arms," said Jim Schiekofer, group publisher of Reader's Digest Home Improvement Group at Pleasantville, NY-based Reader's Digest Association.

As a result, real estate agents at Century 21 and ERA will hand all 850,000 copies of the annual magazine to new homeowners at closing. The program is to run from April through September -- the estimated time it will take the firms to reach the 850,000 mark.

The names of the home buyers will not be passed along to Reader's Digest.

The partnership with Cendant grew out of a desire by Reader's Digest to expand the audience for another of its home improvement titles, Family Handyman. Though that publication already had 1.2 million paid subscribers, Reader's Digest wanted to increase its new homeowner readership, Schiekofer said.

The program seemed ideal to Reader's Digest for several reasons. For one, it is sure that New Homeowner will reach its target audience without having to rent lists and do direct mail. Readership for Family Handyman is expected to rise through subscription cards blown into New Homeowner.

Another big plus is that advertisers seem willing to pay a premium to get into the magazine at a time ad revenue is down for many publications.

"We have a $95 CPM on the program as opposed to a normal $58 CPM that we have with Family Handyman," Schiekofer said. "The success right there to the advertiser is that the homeowner gets the advertising message right when they take possession of their new home."

Though the publication is still accepting advertising, four advertisers signed on immediately and space is limited, he said.

Cendant sees the program as a value-added service to its real estate clients. In addition, Cendant will receive a percentage of subscriptions to Family Handyman generated through the blow-in cards.

Reader's Digest has no plans to work with any other real estate firms.


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