By: George Garneau
Bloomberg ‘soft’ launches personal finance magazine in 13
newspaper markets with a combined circulation of 5.8 million sp.
THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT market is suddenly sprouting a new generation of segmented magazines.
The newest Bloomberg Personal, a personal finance magazine launched Sept. 11 by Bloomberg LP, familiar to newspapers as the owner of Bloomberg Business News. The supplement appeared in 13 newspaper markets with combined circulation of 5.8 million.
The launch followed Parade magazine’s announcement that it plans to start a Sunday supplement for kids next September called react.
“The fact that we started with 5.8 million circulation shows the tremendous interest in personal finance,” said Bloomberg staffer Jay Langan. “These newspapers were ecstatic to get this into their papers because it adds to their business and financial coverage.”
Plans call for Bloomberg Personal to appear monthly through December and to become weekly in February.
After a “soft launch” devoid of hard selling in advance, newspapers have been calling unsolicited to get Bloomberg Personal, according to Tim Kelly, who created the magazine and serves as ad director. He said advertiser support has also blossomed since the product hit the streets.
The supplement made its debut in the New York Daily News; Dallas Morning News; Houston Chronicle; Chicago Sun-Times; St. Petersburg Times; Denver Post; Detroit News; Boston Herald; the Record and Gannett Suburban newspapers, both outside New York City; the Orange County Register; Contra Costa Newspapers and Alameda Newspaper Group, both outside San Francisco.
Bloomberg is close to agreements with several other major papers and tentatively plans to expand circulation to about 10 million.
“We did not start this as a profit center,” Kelly said. “There was a demand from newspapers to expand the news hole for personal finance . . . . This was truly a demand-driven product.”
Bloomberg Personal is completely advertiser supported. Like the business news service that Bloomberg gives away to newspapers, the magazine is free to newspapers, which sign exclusive agreements to a carry it.
“We see this as an extension of our relationship with newspapers,” Kelly said.
The magazine is written and edited by the staff of Bloomberg Business News, which employs over 300 journalists to cover financial news from 45 bureaus around the world. The three-year-old agency provides news to over 100 U.S. newspapers ? a service that promotes the financial information Bloomberg sells to businesses for a profit.
Headed by managing editor William Inman, a former United Press International editor, the magazine covers all aspects of personal finance, from vacations, to mutual funds, to college financing, to retirement. Though it applies to almost anybody, it focuses largely on issues affecting the Baby Boom generation, now in its prime earning years and contemplating retirement.
A recent issue carried stories about mortgage rebates, doing business in Russia, Hollywood whiz Ron Perelman, and negotiating fees with doctors.
Attractive double-truck color graphics portray in simple terms lifelong financial planning and the recent bull stock market. An interactive phone service offers news articles and brief advice from business newsmakers, and it allows callers to voice their opinions.
Revenue comes entirely from advertising. Bloomberg sells national ads, while ads in specific markets can be purchased through individual papers. Advertisers in the debut issue included Gold Star electronics, Lincoln luxury cars, and Nordic Track exercise equipment.
The magazines are printed on gravure presses by contract with Brown Printing Co.in Franklin, Ky. They are customized with the name of each newspaper.
The magazine is exploring how to grow. It is negotiating with smaller papers, which are expensive to service for comparatively little circulation, with the goal of forming consortiums of small papers to justify the costs of printing and transportation. He did not rule out the possibility of fees.
“We are trying to do whatever we can to accommodate the smaller papers, ” Kelly said. “My bet is we’ll find a way to get into smaller papers after we get through the launch.”
He was also looking into the possibility distribution through home delivery papers only. That decision would be made in conjunction with individual papers. Such a system would help Bloomberg track who its readers are and would give publishers an incentive with which to lure single copy buyers into becoming subscribers. At the Detroit News, for example, the magazine goes only to home-delivery customers, and it goes out on Mondays.
For advertisers, Bloomberg is compiling syndicated research on its newspaper affiliates. The magazine communicates with newspaper affiliates via Bloomberg terminals.
Bloomberg L.P. is based in New York City, where it employees over 600 people, and operates offices in Skillman, N.J., where another 800 work.
Profits go to schools.
?( Morning News; Houston Chronicle; Chicago Sun-Times; St. Petersburg Times; Denver Post; Detroit News;) [Photo & Caption]