'Hotdots' shopping mag to get $5 million launch

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Time Inc.'s Southern Progress subsidiary is betting a $5 million launch budget that readers are ready for Hotdots, a magazine aimed at women who shop online.

Its creators paint Hotdots as a shopping and lifestyle title, stressing that despite its tech bent it will be placed on newsstands among other women's magazines.

"This is not being developed to capture dot-com dollars," Publisher Jeff Ward said. Its first issue, dated November-December, will hit newsstands on November 6. The title is scheduled to publish every-other-monthly through 2001 and switch to a monthly frequency in 2002. The rate base is 400,000.

Other publishers have moved toward servicing this niche, but right now Hotdots has much of the terrain to itself. Ziff Davis Media put out two issues of online shopping magazine eshopper, but in July decided to make it a special issue of Yahoo! Internet Life. Last October, Meredith Corp. polybagged 3 million copies of Shop Online 123 to select subscribers of 10 of its titles. It will do so again with four this year, but the company has no plans to make that supplement into a new title.

Editor Mark Mayfield said, "I'm sort of amazed there's not more" competition in Hotdots' space.

But one media buyer isn't. Hotdots "might make a nice section in [Conde Nast Publications' shopping title] Lucky," said Ilene Danuff, media director at New York ad agency Hampel/Stefanides.

Story topics for the launch issue, said Mr. Mayfield, will include whether it's time to buy DVD equipment, how sportswear makers have recognized "women have different bodies than men" and how to buy groceries online without the produce "going bad by the time it reaches you."

50% AD RATIO

Hotdots, like other Southern Progress titles, will be based in Birmingham, Ala. The launch issue of at least 160 pages will be about 50% advertising. Launch advertisers include DaimlerChrysler's Dodge, Revlon Inc. and Polo/Ralph Lauren. A one-time full-page color ad costs $22,000.

An accompanying Web site, which will have original content and bulletin boards for readers to swap online shopping tips, will go up Sept. 15. Prospective Time Inc. owner America Online will promote the new title on its start page.

"Of all Web site directory magazines, we really like this one," said Paula Brooks, a media buyer with Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York.

Copyright August 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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