Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Need a Loan? Subscribe to a Magazine

Thanks to the big-data revolution, subscribing to a magazine may help you overcome a weak credit score.

Many lenders are looking beyond credit scores to determine the credit-worthiness of consumers who have limited or somewhat checkered credit histories, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

About 53 million U.S. adults have no credit scores and another 56 million have sub-prime scores, writes the Journal’s AnnaMaria Andriotis.

“Now, revenue-hungry companies are considering metrics both mundane and peculiar, like whether applicants shop at discount stores, subscribe to magazines or pay their phone bills on time.”

That’s the power of data analytics at work – identifying more people who can be loaned money to buy stuff they can’t afford.

Think big! Live large! File Chapter 11!
“TransUnion says it sells alternative data to U.S. lenders that can include whether consumers subscribe to and pay for magazines. ‘It’s an indicator of stability,’ said Mike Mondelli, senior vice president of global data strategy.”

Now you may be wondering, “Do my favorite magazines really sell information about me that helps the banks poke into my spending habits?” Mr. Tree pleads the Fifth.

There’s no indication whether only print subscriptions count as an indicator of stability. But it doesn’t really matter because no one buys digital magazines.

(Editor’s note: Mr. Tree, as usual, is exaggerating. After all, Meredith Corporation, the largest magazine publisher in the U.S. and a leader in the shift to digital magazines, recently reported that subscriptions and single-copy sales for its digital editions represent a whopping “4.5% of our total rate base.” So there actually are a few people who buy digital magazines.)

Quiz: Which of these titles are still in print?
If you're hoping that signing up for a magazine will help you get your hands on that Jaguar you’ve been eyeing, act fast. This gravy train will screech to a halt once the big-data analysts realize that magazine subscription lists have been invaded by the unstable, phone-reading, print-is-dead, ad-blocking, paywall-hopping hordes.

So quick, subscribe to five print magazines (before they shut down), pay your phone bill, and run to the dollar store.

Pop quiz: Of the 11 magazines depicted in this article, which five are no longer in print? Leave a comment with your answer.

Dead Tree Edition's off-the-wall, slightly more offensive commentary on the magazine-media business includes:

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