TV Guide to push the envelope

Already a favored media vehicle of direct response advertisers, TV Guide is introducing a co-op envelope next year that will provide advertisers with another chance at reaching the magazine's subscriber list.Fred Sanders, TV Guide's advertising sales director, says the intention is...

Already a favored media vehicle of direct response advertisers, TV Guide is introducing a co-op envelope next year that will provide advertisers with another chance at reaching the magazine’s subscriber list.

Fred Sanders, TV Guide’s advertising sales director, says the intention is to maintain a high quality in design, production and contents to position the envelope as an extension of TV Guide, almost as a ‘premium’ that is being offered as a bonus to the magazine’s readers.

The envelope, which is clearly identified as a TV Guide product with the magazine’s logo, is being sold to national advertisers and will carry such contents as price-off coupons, gift ideas, samples, product information sheets and household hints.

‘The idea is to make this high quality and interesting,’ Sanders says. ‘It has to be interesting and useful. To make it work, we have to marry the envelope with the book itself, and provide advertisers with access to our subscribers.’

The envelope will be mailed separately to TV Guide subscribers, and is described by Sanders as ‘the only addressed co-op envelope’ and the first such product to be directly linked to a magazine.

Sanders says the nature and size of TV Guide’s subscriber list has made it particularly attractive to direct marketers.

TV Guide sells 812,000 copies every week through subscriber and newsstand sales. An appealing feature of this list is that it gets updated with every week’s issue.

And TV Guide readers seem to be particularly receptive to direct sales messages.

The magazine has a young family skew, with 18-to-34-year olds above the population norms. About 55% of its readers are women, but about 66% of the purchase of the magazine is made by women.

‘We know we have a great audience for direct response,’ Sanders says, pointing out that he is almost sold out of insert space for the next two years, and it has been like that for the past several years.

‘When an opening [for an insert] comes up, I can sell it within an hour,’ he says.

The number of inserts that TV Guide can carry is dictated by the size of each issue. But on average, the magazine carries four inserts.

Last year, TV Guide took its subscriber list off the market and is now using the co-op envelope as a means of gaining access to it.

But, Sanders says, at less than half the price. It used to cost $90 per 1,000 to rent the list, whereas it will cost $40 per 1,000 or less to be in the envelope.

To help build expectation around the product, and to reinforce the connection with TV Guide, a full-page ad will appear in the magazine previewing the envelope a week before it is mailed.

The first envelope will be mailed to 500,000 subscribers across the country in February as a test.

Sanders says the plan is to have four a year mailed to 750,000 subscribers beginning next September.

As another means of maintaining quality control, Sanders says the number of items in the envelope will be limited to about 20.

Sanders says that within 10 days of actively selling the February envelope, it is already half-booked ‘and we have orders for next fall from several big national advertisers.’