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Time Inc. offers personalized magazine

Time Inc., American Express Publishing and Lexus have teamed up to create a custom consumer magazine called Mine.

The free biweekly will allow readers to design their own magazine, featuring stories from 5 of 8 different Time or American Express titles (Time, Sports Illustrated, Food and Wine, Real Simple, Money, In Style, Golf and Travel and Leisure). Advertisements will also be customized for those subscribers who opt to fill out a survey at the time of sign-up. Though all ads are for Lexus, those going to a survey respondent will include personal interests and geographical targeting in their messages.

Mine will be mailed for free to the first 31,000 people to sign up on the Time Inc. site, and a digital version of the magazine will be available to another 200,000 readers. Customized widgets, mobile apps and RSS feeds will also be available to readers. The first issue of mine will ship in early April.

“We’re always looking for new ways to engage our readers with our content, so this is a great experiment for us,” said Kris Connell, spokesperson for Time Inc. “Lexus has been a longstanding partner of ours, and they certainly stand for innovation. The messages they were looking to communicate about driver-inspired vehicles dovetails nicely with a project that’s reader-inspired.

Lexus is the sole advertiser in the five issue, ten week “experiment,” with four full-page ads in each 36-page issue. However, Connell insisted that the magazine was not considered custom publishing, and there are no advertorials.

Time will launch a campaign promoting Mine on Friday, March 20. Ads for the new title will appear in select Time Inc. magazines and on their respective Web sites, directing people to the sign-up site.

Connell said that both Lexus and Time would be researching consumer reactions to the project, but would not say whether this project could be repeated in the future.

“I think it’s an exciting project for magazine industry at large, and we’re looking forward to seeing what people think,” she said.

If the project is successful, it could usher in a new model for publishers, who are struggling to keep up with the super-segmented news feeds of the Internet. The AP reports that MediaNews group, publisher of the Denver Post and the Los Angeles Daily News, is planning a similar experiment, delivered online as a PDF, for this summer.

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