SOURCE: Hearst Magazines

Hearst Magazines

December 15, 2010 15:15 ET

Hearst and the Direct Marketing Association's Analytics Council Announce Winner of First Annual Hearst Challenge

Winning Team From United States Beats Out More Than 700 Other Participants, Wins $25,000 for Designing Superior Newsstand Sell-Through Model

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 15, 2010) -  Hearst Magazines and the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Analytics Council today announced the winner of the Hearst Challenge (http://hearstchallenge.com), a competition to build a model that better predicts a magazine's sell-through rate, or the percentage of copies distributed to newsstands that end up being sold. The winning team, A^3 from the United States, consisting of Aleksey Fadeev, Ph.D., Aleksey Ashikhmin, Ph.D. and Arthur Abdulin, was awarded $25,000. The announcement was made from the 2010 NCDM Conference in Miami, Fla. 

More than 700 teams from nearly 60 countries entered the 2010 Hearst Challenge analytics competition. Kicked off in October of this year, the Hearst Challenge made available a historical sample of newsstand data from 10 publications and 10,000 stores to all registered teams. Participants were tasked with creating an analytical framework that could predict the "response" of various newsstand locations and optimize the overall contribution of each newsstand. The top three teams, including the winners and teams from United States and China, presented their solutions at the NCDM Conference. The winner was chosen for having the smallest root mean square error (RMSE), or difference between the values predicted by their model and actual newsstand figures.

"We were blown away by the overwhelming interest in this contest as well as by the caliber of the entries," said Charlie Swift, vice president, database strategy and marketing, Hearst Magazines. "This year's winners achieved a true breakthrough in using analytic modeling to help predict newsstand performance; we extend our congratulations to the entire team. This contest has proven so successful, we are planning on bringing the Hearst Challenge back next year with a new business puzzle to solve."

"We were thrilled to co-sponsor this challenge with Hearst and we couldn't be happier with both the level of participation and the amazing work presented by our finalists," said Lisa Merizio Smith, director, Segment Services, DMA.

More details and full contest rules are available at http://hearstchallenge.com.

About the DMA
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents companies from dozens of vertical industries in the U.S. and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.

In 2009, marketers -- commercial and nonprofit -- spent $149.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.3% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total U.S. sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.783 trillion in incremental sales. In 2009, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total U.S. gross domestic product. Also in 2009, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the U.S. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.9 million U.S. jobs.

The Power of Direct: Relevance. Responsibility. Results.

About Hearst Magazines
Hearst Magazines is a unit of Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com), one of the nation's largest diversified communications companies with interests in magazines, newspapers, digital media, business media and television. As one of the world's largest publishers of monthly magazines, Hearst Magazines publishes nearly 200 editions around the world, including 14 U.S. titles and 20 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst Magazines is a leading publisher of monthly magazines in the U.S. in terms of total circulation (ABC June 2010) and reaches 73 million adults (Spring 2010 MRI).

Its digital media unit operates 24 websites and 10 mobile sites for brands such as Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and Seventeen, as well as digital-only sites such as Delish.com, a food site in partnership with MSN; TheDailyGreen.com; MisQuinceMag.com; RealBeauty.com; social shopping site Kaboodle.com; and consumer health site RealAge.com. Hearst Magazines has more than 30 applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the Droid platform, including enhanced digital issues, utilities, special content and games based on its popular brands.

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