Magazine Launch of the Year: 'Domino'

It's No Average Shelter Book and No Average Launch

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NEW YORK ( -- Domino makes rate-base hikes look like a walk in the park. One year after launching at 400,000, its guaranteed circulation was already at 500,000. For February 2007, Conde Nast Publications plans for it to jump another 50,000, or 10%, and it's already asking Domino advertisers to budget for an August hike to 600,000.

Editor in chief Deborah Needleman and publisher Beth Brenner have created a winner with 'Domino.'

Domino's advertisers aren't even flinching. In fact, it would seem they just can't get enough. With October's makeover issue, the largest since the magazine's launch in spring/summer 2005, VP-Publisher Beth Brenner has had to revise her estimated 650 ad pages for the year's 10 issues to somewhere closer to 730.

Ad pages through September, at 456.6, have more than doubled from a year ago, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

What's the secret to the skyrocketing numbers? Domino isn't what you'd normally think of as a shelter magazine.

In fact, Ms. Brenner argues Domino really isn't a home magazine at all. "The home is our centerpiece, but we really built a lifestyle-magazine model," she says. "We wanted it to mirror the happiness and emotion that happen in your home, not just the furniture and the walls and the carpet."

That model only ever allowed for 35% of the advertising to be home-related. And it's the 65% mix of technology, automotive, fashion and beauty advertisers that's going to support Domino's meteoric rise.

"Most home magazines walk a funny balance between the size of their audience and the type of advertisers in the home-decor industry," says Polly Perkins, VP-business development at AdMedia Partners, New York, suggesting most high-end home design artisans can't afford too high a rate base.

"As long as they are not targeting the interior-design professionals alone, they could eventually hit a million [in circulation]," she says.

And that's exactly the prize Ms. Brenner has her eye on.

A recent Borders test found Domino sells 50% better when placed among the likes of Time Inc.'s Real Simple and Conde Nast sibling Lucky than it does when placed in the Home section. Ms. Perkins believes that other shelter magazines would do well to follow suit.

In a category that's all about what you can rip out to take to the sales people on your next decorating trip, Domino has the tabs and pull-out ideas down pat, not to mention a website that furthers the can-do attitude and continues to make style accessible to the masses.

"My philosophy for the website is for it to do what the magazine can't," says Domino Editor in Chief Deborah Needleman.

While the print edition may be a solitary experience, traffic on the web site suggests that readers are dying to talk to anyone and everyone about their ideas. To that end, Ms. Needleman plans to relaunch the site before Christmas, focusing more on fostering a community, supporting interactivity and collating all the services and information already available.

"The web site is us stepping back and letting the readers run the show," she says.

The end result of the two platforms side by side is, according to Ms. Perkins, "all idea-centric and clever enough to be directed to Generations X and Y, and yet give a reader enough to take away, even if she's 52."

Launch of the Year
Company: Conde Nast Publications
Guaranteed circ: Launched at 400,000, next up to 550,000
Why it won: It's a lifestyle, not shelter outlook that drives the title, with a spiffy web site that promotes a can-do perspective
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