|Synapse Group logo|
|Industry||Marketing, Multichannel Marketing, Magazine, Periodical, Subscription, Reward Programs|
|Headquarters||Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.|
|Sebastien Bilodeau (CEO)
John Nimons (EVP, CIO)
Synapse Group, Inc. is a multichannel marketing company. Synapse is also the largest consumer magazine distributor in the United States, with access to over 700 magazine titles from all the major publishers (including Hearst Corporation, Condé Nast Publications, Meredith Corporation, and Time Inc.). Synapse attracts subscribers for these publications by working through a number of non-traditional marketing channels, including credit card issuers, catalog companies, and airline frequent-flyer programs. Synapse receives universally negative reviews from customers on websites such as Yelp and Better Business Bureau, and has been criticized for their unethical business practices by several reputable publications, including the New York Times.
Synapse Group began in 1991 as NewSub Magazine Service LLC. Founded by Jay S. Walker (who developed Priceline.com) and Michael Loeb, the company began by marketing fixed-term magazine subscriptions through credit card companies. Over the years, NewSub expanded its marketing channels to include retailers, airlines, catalogers, and dot-com companies. In the year 2000, the company changed its name to Synapse Group, Inc.
Continuous Service System
In 1996, NewSub introduced their Continuous Subscription Service system, which would automatically renew subscriptions without consent from customers; at a price far above what those customers initially agreed to pay. The company applied for a patent, which was granted in 2000 to Michael Loeb and Synapse Group, Inc. for "[m]ethod and apparatus for providing open-ended subscriptions to commodity items normally available through term-based subscriptions. The Continuous Subscription Service system is designed to automatically renew subscriptions with or without consent of the customer. "
Acquisition by Time Inc.
In 2000, Time Inc. made its first equity investment in Synapse Group, starting a partnership that would ultimately culminate with the outright purchase of Synapse in 2006. In a 2000 press release from Time Warner, Jeremy Koch (who was Consumer Marketing President at the time) explained, "The marketing of consumer magazines is undergoing substantial change. Our relationship with Synapse is an important part of Time Inc.'s strategy to support the expansion of new and innovative marketing methods."
- AmericanFamily.com is a direct-to-consumer portal website that launched in 2011. Registered users accrue points by taking quizzes, playing games, or browsing for recipes. These points can then be exchanged in an online store for goods or gift cards. It was shut down in October 2012.
- Elite Traveler Awards was originally founded in 1995 as CAP (Customer Appreciation Program) Systems to develop affinity marketing strategies for frequent flyer and other customer reward programs. Members may elect to redeem their frequent flyer miles or other points for subscriptions to traditional print or electronic magazines. Since the program was implemented, an estimated 100 billion frequent flyer miles have been redeemed for magazine subscriptions.
- Magazine Direct, a program introduced in 1998, offers magazine subscriptions to DRTV and catalog customers when they call to place orders.
- SynapseConnect, Inc. is the e-commerce subsidiary of Synapse Group. The company has developed a number of internet-marketing strategies that attempt to use Synapse's offline marketing strength to leverage online sales. Some of its properties include MagazineOutlet.com, which has grown steadily since its launch in 1999, and FreeBizMag.com, which launched in 2000 and was the first third-party subscription service for trade publications.
Synapse Group has used a number of service marks over time in association with particular business channels, both for direct sales projects as well as with partner services. These marks include: Synapse Group Inc., TWX Magazine, Magazine Outlet, Newsub Services, Synapse Solutions, Synapse Retail Ventures, and Magazine Rewards Center. These names often appear on customers' credit card statements for the company's subscription service charges.
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