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Online 'bingo'

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It's a traditional method of selling business media, but with an online twist. In 2007, Allured Business Media launched a sales-lead-generation program online for a handful of its magazines. These magazines—all monthlies—include Cosmetics and Toiletries (4,800 circ.), GCI (Global Cosmetic Industry, 16,000 circ.) and Skin Inc. (30,000 circ.), “These magazines made the most sense because they speak to more companies and the audiences are greater [than other publications in its portfolio,]” said Linda Knott, director of operations at Allured, who oversees the publisher's marketing and advertising departments. The program got off to a slow start, as Allured learned the ropes of online lead generation. But in the last year or so—amid a torpid economy and a crunch on marketers' budgets—the program has become increasingly popular with media buyers. “More and more people are spending ad dollars where they can measure response,” Knott said. “There's been an upswing in how advertisers view lead generation. They're more likely to buy a given issue [of one of Allured's magazines participating in the lead-gen program] knowing that their names are going to be passed along to readers and because they know we have the metrics.” Here's how the program works: Three days after the print version of the publication has been delivered, Allured blasts an e-mail to the various subscribers listing all the advertisers that appeared in the print issues and asking if they want to receive more information about them. An automated system collects the names and contact information of those readers who opt in and, in turn, advertisers are sent an e-mail message. The e-mails to readers are specifically designed with “no frills,” Knott said. “We believe that to get the highest response rate from recipients, and make sure they can open the e-mail without any difficulties, we've decided to stay with a text-based e-mail to keep it fast, simple and to-the-point.” Knott said the program recreates the so-called “bingo-card” format via electronic delivery. “We're passing along qualified leads to advertisers,” she said. “These are names and addresses from people who have requested the information, so it is like an online bingo card.” Knott could not provide any metrics on the growth of the program. Allured has no plans to expand the program to any of its other media products and is sticking with a quarterly frequency for the follow-up e-mail messages. “Any increase would hurt the response rate,” Knott said. Ted Kohnen, VP-interactive marketing at b-to-b ad agency Stein Rogan+Partners, stressed that with online lead-gen programs, less is more. “There is a cap,” he said. “You don't want to send the Yellow Pages [regarding names of advertisers], but a digestible amount of information.” He added that Allured's program is a prime example of how publishers can leverage their print and online products in a different fashion. “It's a great form of opt-in communications,” he said. “It's another tool in the tool kit. Publishers have to offer multiple opportunities—branding or lead-gen—to advertisers. Advertisers want a selection. This is good component of what has to be a variety of offerings.” Knott said the program helps maintain print publications against the ongoing migration of ad dollars to online venues. “If you can offer advertisers added value, they'll stick with the print publication in addition to showing that you're making movements online.” M
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