Using Magazines to Truly Target
I just had a meeting with MNI (Media Networks Inc.), a company that functions as an ad sales rep firm for magazines. Big deal. There's hundreds of them. The twist with MNI, though is their ability to microtarget on a local basis using national magazines. How do they do this? They basically sell ads that are then pre-printed, shipped off to the national magazine's printers, who then insert these ads based on subscriber zip codes. Almost every market in the country can be bought this way. This allows very small local advertisers to been seen in a national magazine. An advertiser can choose from several of their "networks" such as News which includes Newsweek, Time, U.S. News, and Sports Illustrated; or MenStyle which includes GQ, Esquire, Golf, etc. There are also Luxury, Executive, and Family networks.
All very helpful if you have a local advertiser looking for local media that doesn't look local.
Targeting by geography and by demographics (based on magazine subject matter) is great. But take that a step further. What if MNI where to offer the ability to target truly by demographics? In other words, use the demographic information collected by the magazines in their networks and insert ads based on those demographics. The trouble is, magazines don't collect demographic information on the granular level needed for this to work. Sure, they do readership studies but that data is then used, in aggregate, to paint a picture of the entire reader base. What is needed is specific demographic information tied to a specific reader.
Business to business magazines using the controlled circulation method, however, do this much better. In return for receiving say, Information Week (a computer industry magazine), for free, subscribers must fill out a lengthy qualification form detailing their title, company revenue, buying habits, planned expenditures, product usage, etc. Consumer magazines are not there yet nor are the readers I think. There are privacy issues. People do not like to give up all sorts of information about themselves. And even if they do, it is not always accurate.
If the perception of reduced ad clutter and the promise of ads relevant to only an individual's needs were actually possible then, perhaps, this MNI demographic vision might have a chance. Unfortunately, I don't think we are there yet both from the consumer side giving up the info and on the publication side having the ability to get that granular with the production process.
Time will tell.