Time Inc.'s Maghound: How Come So Few of Us Are Sniffing It Out?

Last Updated Jul 7, 2009 10:48 AM EDT

While I'm sitting around waiting for New York magazine to get back to me about whether it outsources subscriptions to the non-BBB accredited D&T Connection thought I'd post about Maghound. What? haven't heard about this service, which lets consumers package a certain number of magazines into one low monthly cost? As low as $4.95? Well, me neither.

Turns out it's a Time Inc. venture that's been around for almost a year now, and the reason that you haven't heard about it, per its president, Dave Ventresca, is because Time Inc. has been quiet about Maghound while it works out the bugs. A year to work out bugs? No wonder that, according to a story I read about this in Mediaweek, Maghound subscriptions are making up less than one percent of subscriptions at some participating magazines (not all of which are part of the Time Inc. family).

No, wait a minute. Hold that thought. While Ventresca says that Maghound is about to ramp up promotion, it strikes me as peculiar that this doesn't have more traction. Doing a quick Google search shows that this Netflix-style approach to magazine subscriptions has actually received quite a bit of buzz in the last year; 288,000 mentions to be exact, including one more than a year ago from my BNET Media colleague David Weir. (Given the quirky name, you can feel more assured than usual that most of these mentions are referring to the service.)

It's not as though we live in a time where promotion is solely the province of those in charge of the product or service they're advertising. A few blog posts in the right places can be better at accomplishing promotion than the banner ads and direct mail efforts Ventresca promises are right around the corner. It appears Maghound has had some of that.

So what's the problem? Hard to say. The list of magazines included is now totalling over 300, and it's not a bad list -- besides Time Inc. titles, users can subscribe to Men's Health, National Geographic, Glamour and Dwell, among others. Plus, you can change what you subscribe to on the fly; that's probably a first for the magazine business. Next time the hubby and I are considering whether to re-up on some subs that we dropped to be in keep in step with these financially-constrained times, I'm going to point him to Maghound.