Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Die Welt’s analytics system de-emphasizes clicks and demystifies what it considers a “quality” story
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 15, 2009, 12:15 p.m.

Time Inc. thinks I like bobbleheads: More “customization” from Mine

I’ve written about the experimental Time Inc. magazine Mine before; it’s an attempt to bring some degree of customization to the one-size-fits-all-subscribers magazine business. I just got my second issue, so here’s a quick update of my earlier, skeptical review.

The personalized Lexus ads are still a little creepy, I think. One refers to my “life in Massachusetts” (although a printing error has screwed up the spacing around Massachusetts — the perils of custom printing on this scale) and the need to keep a safe distance between me and “any car on the MassPike.” The next, bizarrely, says:

An available Navigation System with real-time traffic information becomes very important on Free Bobble-Head Day at the baseball game.

“Free Bobble-Head Day”? That’s my specially targeted message?

The inside back cover features the image above, which creepily mentions my work address. That feels like a step too far. Think of it as the uncanny valley of advertising: There’s a point at which customization is too spooky to be enjoyable but not close enough to be effective.

At least the stories are a little fresher this time. (In the last issue, some of the “customized” content was two years old.) I hunted down the articles in this issue — all but one are available free online on various magazines’ web sites — and most were from February and March 2009 issues. The oldest I found was from September 2008.

But, below, you’ll find out my biggest surprise reading this issue.

When I finally got to the back cover, I discovered that I’d accidentally picked up my colleague Zach’s copy of Mine. (Maybe Time Inc. has discovered Zach’s secret bobblehead addiction or something.)

It’s a statement on how uncustomized this customization business is that I didn’t realize this just-for-me mag was actually just-for-Zach until I spotted his name. As I said last time, I admire Time Inc. being willing to try something new, particularly if Lexus is picking up the tab. But this hodgepodge of old articles and creepy ads still isn’t a package I’m sold on.

POSTED     May 15, 2009, 12:15 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Die Welt’s analytics system de-emphasizes clicks and demystifies what it considers a “quality” story
Every story’s performance reduced to a single score: a reductionist take on journalism or a way to make a news organization’s values concrete?
Good news, publishers: People will read your long stories on their phones (for two minutes, anyway)
People will read longer content on their smartphones, a new Pew report finds.
Tampa just lost a daily newspaper; is this the continuation of an old trend or the start of a new one?
Buy a company, milk the cash flow, sell off assets, shut it down: It can be a profitable formula. Is this the end game for some metro newspapers?
What to read next
0
tweets
From Nieman Reports: Why your news site should be more readable for the visually impaired
Over eight million Americans have trouble with their vision. Here’s how newsrooms can (and should) design with them in mind.
0A new podcast from Mic and The Economist aims for a global perspective on the 2016 election
“Part of the appeal here is that this an unexpected combination. But I think we’d argue that we’re not that different,” said Economist deputy editor Tom Standage.
0The New Yorker Today is the magazine’s new iPhone app for its online articles (plus cartoons)
The app will be free for a time while The New Yorker figures out how many articles readers can access before hitting the paywall.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
DNAinfo
Austin American-Statesman
El País
BuzzFeed
Suck.com
The Huffington Post
The Guardian
Houston Chronicle
Franklin Center
Wikipedia
The New Yorker
Time