‘Wired’ cyberstalking its British subscribers


As magazines strive to avoid imminent death by reinventing themselves, they've been enlivening the physical experience with everything from flavor strips in Rolling Stone to little panels of digital ink embedded in Esquire. Interestingly, Wired, a magazine known for its cutting-edge-ness, has now embraced variable print, an older option for engaging an audience, in a new way. Most variable-printing jobs yank some piece of data and slap it into a form letter, with the idea that addressing you as you, instead of "sir," can make all the difference. While that's nice, Wired has gone further by sending some U.K. subscribers an extremely individualized version of the magazine that lists a disturbing amount of personal information about each recipient on the cover. Some of the details, which Wired found from free online sources, include what the readers are buying and selling on eBay, what videos their kids have posted online, and what their exes have been saying about them lately. The point was to highlight an article about online privacy. It's an insanely good way to make print a little more relevant—up until the moment they get sued. Remember what I said the other day about how marketers don't use data from Google to alienate and disturb their target? Apparently, I lied.