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Oct 19, 2001
How To

Reader's Digest's Advice on Growing Magazine Subscriptions with Online Co-Registration Ads

SUMMARY: As we initially forecast in early February, co-registration has turned into one of the quickest growing online advertising formats.

Co-registration is the ability for an advertiser to place a quick offer check box on another site's registration form. So as new users register at popular sites such as Hotmail and McAfee, they can also click on a variety of third party offers at the same time.

Reader's Digest is practically the poster child for co-registration buyers. Andrew Bein, General Manager for and the Company's Internet tactics in general, laughed when we told him this, saying, "That's a good thing...

Creative is usually a simple, one-sentence, text offer with an opt-in box and sometimes includes a small graphic such as a logo. Co-registrations are generally paid for on a CPA (cost- per-acquisition) basis ranging from 15 cents to several dollars per name depending on targeting required and data gathered.

Co-registrations are especially popular with print magazines and email newsletter publishers. We got useful advice from publishers on both sides for you:

- Print Magazines

Reader's Digest is practically the poster child for co- registration buyers. Andrew Bein, General Manager for and the Company's Internet tactics in general, laughed when we told him this, saying, "That's a good thing to be."

He explains, "We are aggressively looking for ways to grow our customer base. It turns out the Internet population now overlaps with our market for magazines and other products. Co- registration is an exciting direct marketing technique to reach them." Reader's Digest primarily uses co-registration to make soft offers (several issues free) for its print magazines.

Bein has three bits of advice for other print magazine publishers considering testing co-registration:

1. Don't put a pre-checked box on somebody else's site because you'll get too many unqualified names that won't convert well to sales or readership. "It's foolish, it would cost us money." Instead, require that visitors proactively check boxes, so you are sure they've raised their hand for your offer.

2. Always test small co-registration buys on sites that are new to you before rolling out with a full campaign. "Don't go high volume until you've learned enough about payment rates to learn it's a good source." Evaluate campaign success using the same metrics you evaluate direct mail campaign success with -- not by the percent of people who pay, but by your final return on investment. Co-registration is so much cheaper than many direct mail campaigns that you can afford a lower payment conversion rate.

3. Be very clear in your copy if you are planning to bill responders. It's tempting to try to get more people to click on your box by trumpeting "Free!" but you'll damage your reputation and customer relationship if they are jolted by an unexpected invoice.

Mitchel Harad, CEO GetRelevant an online ad broker who serves Reader's Digest, adds the following advice:

"Simplicity and honesty are probably the two key components of a successful co-reg campaign. The most common/effective creative for co-reg is generally a simple, animated 88x60 gif. Companies with well known brands have a lot of success with just their logo and a few words. For instance, Reader's Digest uses a very simple 3 image animation that says 'Reader's Digest...One Free Issue...Sign Up Now'

"For copy, simplicity and honesty also apply. Remember, co-reg is usually meant to generate a lead---identify someone who is interested, obtain their contact information and permission to further market to them. You don't need (and shouldn't try) to close the sale with a tiny image and one sentence of text!

"Effective copy is quick and to the point:

1. Get a Free Trial issue of XXX Magazine!

2. Sign up for XXX's Free Email Newsletter!

3. Learn more about XXX's Product/Service! We will contact you by email/mail/phone.

"I keep mentioning honesty, and I think that it's a very important and oft overlooked part of an effective co-reg campaign. Tell consumers what you're going to do with their information and you'll have a much higher conversion rate. For instance, if they will receive a daily email from you, just state so. If you're going to place a sales call to them, let them know. Sure, your response rate may fall a bit, but your conversions and ROI should be much higher!

"Looking at other success factors, we've observed that the best response rates are attributed to:

1. Branded titles
2. Soft offers - multiple free issues performs extremely well
3. Including sweepstakes incentive
4. Low hurdle (amount of information collected)
5. Targeted by content/demographic/geography"

Other online ad brokers selling co-registrations include L90 and

... in Part II of this article we'll bring you advice on how email newsletter publishers can use co-registration to grow their lists, plus Andrew Bein's advice for sites selling co-registration ads.
See Also:

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