Wired puts subscribers on the cover

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Wired magazine has teamed up with Xerox to produce personalized covers for its July issue.

The monthly magazine's April issue urged subscribers to log on to Wired.com to upload photographs of themselves. The first 3,000 to do that will be sent July issues with their photographs as the cover art.

"In the short term the strategy was to develop an engaging program for our readers that we could tie in with an advertiser," said Josh Stinchcomb, director of integrated marketing at Wired, New York. "Initially the motivation was certainly to drive revenue, but beyond that the motivation was to brand Wired as an innovator in the realm of integrated marketing and developing."

The personalized cover is one step the magazine is taking toward re-branding and updating its image. Requiring readers to go to its Web site for personalized covers also marks a push for more traffic online.

Xerox, which provided the software for the covers and purchased ad space in the magazine, is also looking to update its image with the campaign. Best known for its copying machines, Xerox wants to make consumers aware of the other technology it offers, including the iGen3 110 digital press it used to create Wired's covers.

Mr. Stinchcomb viewed the partnership with Xerox as a mark of Wired's interest in reader-generated and interactive content. Past promotions have allowed readers to enter an ad-design contest for the print magazine.

"I don't know that we would do this again but we certainly will use it as a model for future programs that allow readers to interact with our brand in some way," he said, "and move our readers from the magazine to the Web site and, in some cases, back to the magazine."

Wired, owned by Condé Nast, targeted current subscribers with the promotion. It used e-mail, inserts and ads on its own site to promote the personalized covers.

In the first three days of the promotion, 11,000 readers submitted photos. Only the first 3,000 submissions were actually used on the magazine, but others were allowed to create and print mock covers with their own headlines on Wired.com. More than 35,000 people have made covers online since.

Ads for the promotion touted Xerox and its software. Xerox also bought the back cover on all of the July issues and the inside front and back covers on the customized issues.

Wired covers technology and innovation news. The print magazine has a circulation rate base of 625,000, most of which is subscription. Its prime demographic is educated, professional males between 40 and 45.

Condé Nast, New York, bought Wired in 1998 and Wired.com in 2006. The publishing corporation owns Vogue, GQ and other lifestyle magazines.

Future plans call for Wired to add more interactive features and an expanded blog network on Wired.com and Reddit.com. The publication will also partner with PBS for a weekly primetime television show called Wired Science. The show will be featured on the PBS site as well as the Wired site.

"Marketers are getting very sophisticated and demanding really successful programs that they can measure the success of and all content producers are going to be challenged to be smarter and faster and more nimble," Mr. Stinchcomb said. "There is a lot of pressure to become very creative very quickly."

"There's more ways to deliver content, which is an opportunity," he added, "but you also have to be smart and be sure you don't cannibalize the content. You have to create more value for the reader and create an area where you can deliver to your advertisers."

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