Hearst mobilizes SmartMoney magazine

September 11, 2008

Ask anyone who’s tried: you can’t hyperlink text when it’s printed on dead trees — the technology’s all wrong. With that in mind, Hearst may have found the next best thing. The magazine publishing giant has hooked up with a company called ShopText to let readers of SmartMoney magazine get access to online extras that are pointed out in the print edition– when you’re nowhere near a computer.

Here’s how it works, according to SmartMoney Publisher Bill Shaw, whom I spoke to on Wednesday:

Right now if you’re reading SmartMoney magazine and you’re on a train, you’re on a beach or someplace away from a computer,  and you’re reading a column and want extended content on that column, what’s the likelihood you’re going to go from the magazine and remember to actually go online and get that extended content?

(Hint: Not very likely)

Instead, Shaw said, you can send a text message to a number advertised in the magazine, then receive a prompt to hand over your e-mail address, and along comes a PDF file of that content in your in-box that will be waiting when you’re next at a computer.

Why a PDF? It’s easier to print out than a regular web page, he said.

Steve Roberts, CEO of SmartText answered my question about why people would bother to do this when they could use that same mobile device and just go online and link to the content they want to read:

Because if you went to the smartmoney.com site on your browser and went to search current articles and got there and said, ‘request PDF’ or e-mail on that particular article, you’d have blood coming out of your ear.

Fair point. It is a bit of a process.

And what’s in it for Hearst, monetarily? It’s that much more of an opportunity to place ads.

SmartMoney will try out the program on a special section on retirement issues inside the edition hitting newsstands on Sept. 16. (Genworth is the sponsor.) To try it out, send the text message “Retire” to SMONEY (766639) and then wait for the e-mail to show up. Follow the instructions (they were simple enough even for this non-techie) and see what happens. It may not be the revolution that saves the print media business, but it’s another small step into the future.

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