Publishing powerhouse Time invited US readers to sign up for what it promised would be a free digital zine tailored to each subscriber's specific interests. We were asked to select five Time magazines we'd like to read content from and to tick off our interests. Apparently there's going to be some sort of print/postal component as well, as you needed to provide a US mailing address to be eligible. (Guess I'd better tip off my mother-in-law as to why she'll be receiving mail for me at her address.)
"Mine represents a groundbreaking shift in the way magazines are made, because what's on each page reflects what you asked for when you subscribed," reads the welcome note on my debut issue. If that's the case, I must have been possessed by the spirit of my nonexistent evil twin when filling out my sub form. What else could explain the inclusion of an article about designer tents and upscale camping? (I am not upscale, and I do not camp.) A feature on fruit juices? (If anything fruit related entered my body at this point, it would go into a near-fatal shock.) An article on road trips? (If I'm sent to hell, it will be via a road trip.) A look at five sports best for building up your arm muscles? (And once I'm in hell, participating in any and all of these sports is how I will be made to spend my time.)
The fact that I can go to any news agent and pick a dozen magazines off the racks that have more content of interest to me than Mine pretty much negates Mine's raison d'etre.
Then again, I'm not 100-percent sure what Mine's raison d'etre is. Is it to monetise digital magazines by enticing advertisers with a wealth of demographic info about subscribers? Is it to provide a new ad vehicle for a deep-pocketed business that wants to be the sole sponsor of something that's seen to be cutting edge? (Lexus is the sponsor of the first issue. Nice to see that Toyota has money to spend.) Is it to eventually charge subscribers for digital magazines by promising targeted, "every article's a winner" content? Is it to use the digital magazine as a driver of subscriptions to the print magazines whose content is included?
If it's to show that the future on one-to-one marketing is here, then Mine has failed. Perhaps if it had incorporated some third-party customer information into its database it could have better tailored the content, if that's what it's goal really was. Or maybe Mine just highlights the difficulty, if not impossibility, of any corporation being able to account for the idiosyncracies and variabilities of any individual, no matter how sophisticated the data and the algorithms.--SC