Premium publishers turn to deal sites

Marketing spotted publications such as Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fortune, Time, Wall Street Journal and National Geographic on these deal sites in the past few months.

The lure of deal sites for brands is usually the awareness they bring, and of course, mass market reach. However, when premium publications employ this marketing strategy, does it have the same effect or does it dilute the brand?

Thy Dinh, Bloomberg Businessweek’s online manager said: “We saw this opportunity as a great way to reach new customers who might not have heard of Bloomberg Businessweek before. Groupon has a wide reach so we know a lot of people will see our brand even if they don’t purchase a Groupon.”

“We have seen good results – some markets have exceeded our expectations.” Bloomberg Businessweek’s deal ran on Groupon and closed with 156 buys. The magazine was sold at SG$35 for 25 issues, less than half its usual price.

Dinh added that Bloomberg Businessweek has run Groupon deals in North America and has also tested some smaller sites before going to Asia. “Groupon by far has the largest reach and has worked well for us in Asia. We’ll continue to consider Groupon as part of our strategy to reach new customers,” he said.

Another example was Time magazine, which was sold at 76% off for a six-month subscription (at $59 instead of $243) on, and fetched 424 buys.

Katherine Chow, marketing director in charge of circulation at Time Asia said the magazine wanted to reach out to an urban, internet savvy and affluent audience.

“Customers respond well to our offers because they have confidence with an established and trusted brand. We found group buying sites are a cost effective way for subscribers to try Time.”

Promotions should be done selectively with a unique offer, so they would not negatively affect the brand, she added.

When asked what the renewal rate of the subscribers were that came on board through these deals, Chow said: “Time will compare the conversion rates against existing sources to determine if group purchase promotions are a viable way to attract loyal subscribers”. (The deals ran in second half of last year and conversion rates are not out yet)

She also said that Time would continue to market through deal sites in future, but that the sites’ recent struggles were a concern.

“There have been media coverage on various group purchase sites’ profitability and we’ve heard one or two sites close down, leaving both customers and merchants stranded, so Time is cautious and will look at offering on a selective basis, carefully evaluating each partnership.”

Graham Hitchmough, The Brand Union Singapore felt that this would not affect these publishers’ brands at all and said it’s a natural step for traditional publishers when their consumers are accessing them in new ways.

“They can’t afford to be overly selective in a time where consumers are accessing content through a wide array of channels.

“And people on deal sites are not necessarily a down market audience. For instance, that Bloomberg Businessweek offer was completely sold out. From a purely commercial point of view this obviously brings in volume.”

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