Web Delivers Subscribers for Magazine Instead of Usual Direct Mail, Stampsheets

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Four-year-old Web magazine Yahoo! Internet Life, a consumer guide to all things Internet, has raised its rate base again -- from 700,000 to 900,000, effective with the February 2000 issue.

The 28.6 percent increase comes as a result of its ongoing circulation strategy, which remarkably includes no direct mail effort and less than 10 percent of new subscriber acquisitions through stampsheet agents such as Publishers Clearing House and American Family Publishers. Typically, 20 percent of all new business for consumer magazines comes from direct mail efforts.

Yahoo! Internet Life's rate base climb has been steep all along: It was last raised by 100,000 in July to 700,000, effective with the September issue. In June 1998, it announced an increase from 400,000 to 600,000, effective with the February 1999 issue. Rate bases are conservative estimates of how many readers a publication can guarantee advertisers, so the number is lower than actual circulation.

"We still do direct marketing, but we do it in a different way," said Paul Turcotte, publisher of Yahoo! Internet Life, a Ziff-Davis publication. "The primary source for subscriptions for us comes through the Internet."

The magazine solicits subscriptions through Yahoo Corp., its joint venture partner, whereby Web surfers click on hotlinks dispersed throughout the portal site to receive a free trial issue and an opportunity to subscribe. It also solicits subscriptions on ZDNet. Circulation has consistently grown double digits since the magazine's inception.

The Yahoo partnership sets it apart from other magazines that have tried subscription efforts online with limited success. Almost every consumer magazine has some kind of online subscription acquisition strategy, but none has garnered significant new customers in that arena.

"No other consumer magazines are getting any large volume from the Net," said Dan Capell, editor of Capell's Circulation Report.

Yahoo is rated the No. 2 Web site behind AOL sites, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, April 1999. It also doesn't hurt that Yahoo! Internet Life's prospects are more likely to be online, perusing the Web, than prospects for other magazines like Esquire or Family Circle, Capell said.

Though Yahoo! Internet Life targets a more male-skewed demographic between the ages of 18 and 49, magazine coverage ranges from pop singer Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair festival site (ww.lilithfair.com) to buying Viagra online.

Once potential subscribers fill out their name, street address and e-mail address online, the magazine adds that information to its database. Free issues are shipped, and traditional direct mail kicks in to lock in orders and bill customers.

Two-and-a-half million accumulated names also exist in the database of consumers who responded to the free trial issue but did not subscribe. The magazine may initiate either traditional direct mail or e-mail marketing in the future, but there are no immediate plans to do so.

"That's just one of the gems in our asset base that is untapped," Turcotte said. "These are people who've already indicated an interest in the property." The magazine also has the ability to track which areas of Yahoo prospects came from, whether it's sports and recreation or finance.

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