The value of acquiring paid circulation through partnerships

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Andrew Degenholtz
Andrew Degenholtz

Partnership marketing is extremely valuable, and is fast becoming a trusted part of the circulator's mix. The Audit Bureau of Circulations Partnership Marketing circulation classification allows a magazine subscription to be sold in combination with a product or service. Partnership-sold subscriptions are a valuable marketing tool and circulation source that uniquely benefit publishers, retailers, consumers and advertisers.

With the elimination of partnership non-deductible rule F2.6, effective July 2007, the ability for a publisher to bundle its publication with a product or service in a retail environment falls primarily under the classification of partnership deductible. As this ABC classification is expected to increase as a percentage of source mix, it is important to explore the value of this source.

Publishers can work with a well-branded retailer to expand their paid circulation. Leveraging a retail partner's assets to combine a subscription offer with a relevant purchase is a cost-effective method of acquiring new subscribers.

For example, when a customer purchases a poster or framed artwork at a retailer, a one-year subscription to a well-known shelter title is included. The consumer has a choice to bundle or unbundle the magazine subscription with the purchase. In addition, the consumer who declines the offer can receive a refund or rebate for the magazine's value, a substantial benefit.

The magazine publisher benefits by inclusion in a relevant environment without the costs usually associated with establishing a high-visibility retail presence. The publisher also gains from a retailer's investment in acquiring and retaining customers.

The retailer benefits from the implied association with a strong flagship print publication, since a partnership promotion can subtly suggest an endorsement. In most retail situations, the retailer has slim margins and this type of promotion often pays a much-needed ancillary commission.

Importantly, the ad buyer also benefits from a magazine subscriber that truly wants the publication, is engaged with the content, and can deduct the magazine's value from the product purchase amount.

Advertisers, publishers and retailers all seek qualified consumers. Their interests, and the consumers' interests, are aligned through a partnership marketing program. It is a circulation class where everyone wins.

Andrew Degenholtz is president of ValueMags. Reach him at

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