September 10, 2009 / 5:01 PM / 8 years ago

Email newsletters aim for inbox and wallet

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If you are a style-conscious young male with a high income living in a big U.S. city, men’s lifestyle email newsletters are gunning for your inbox and your wallet.

They are also pulling advertising dollars away from traditional outlets such as GQ and Esquire magazines.

Thrillist.com and Urbandaddy.com, both founded in 2005, are among the biggest players in the growing field of men’s email publications. After subscribing on the sites, customers receive emails telling them how to fit in and where to shop.

“We monetize the hell out of every piece of content we create because we can reach those guys, the early adopters, the trend-setters.” said Adam Rich, co-founder of Thrillist.com.

The company claims 96 percent of its 1.1 million subscribers are college graduates with a median annual salary of $88,000, and half make more than $100,000 a year.

With 12 city editions, a 13th soon to debut for Seattle and one nationwide edition, Thrillist is rapidly expanding. It expects revenues of between $5 million and $10 million for 2009.

“Guys aren’t foragers. What they really want is a friend they can call and get what they need to know.” said Lance Broumand, founder of Urbandaddy.com. “That’s why advertisers pay us what they do. We are that friend.”

The tone of both newsletters is carefully calibrated to appeal to the demographic: exclusive and luxurious for Urbandaddy, fun and relaxed for Thrillist. Both often organize free, heavily sponsored, events for subscribers who qualify.

But email advertising is delicate, and subscribers have a good sense of when they are getting a pitch.

“As an email, we come unbidden to the reader. You give us your trust.” said Ben Lerer, 27, co-founder of Thrillist.

The company uses custom advertising messages in the same editorial tone as the newsletter, though it indicates when it is a sponsored message.

Urbandaddy’s sponsored email, called sponsored love, “looks and feels exactly like a regular Urbandaddy piece, but it’s a custom-unit,” said Broumand.

Although online advertising accounts for only about 10 percent of total advertising spending, Zsolt Katona, a professor of marketing at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, believes “there is a huge potential (online).”

Ad spending in national print magazines dropped 21 percent in the first six months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 according to Nielsen data. Spending on internet advertising in the U.S. will grow by 4.5 percent in 2009, according to eMarketer, down from 10.6 percent last year.

But a spokesperson for CondeNast digital, which overseas the online presence of the publishing company, dismissed the newsletters as “editorialized emails for advertisers.”

Peter Hunsinger, publisher of GQ magazine, is also not worried. Saying email newsletters are a threat to his business is like “saying that selling fake Rolexes on a street corner is stealing business from Rolex itself,” he explained.

Internet ads are also annoying.

“With us, they can just turn the page if they don’t like it.”

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