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Mimi – an example of digital experimentation

In March 2015, Time Inc. unveiled Mimi, a “social-first” brand that it breathlessly described as the “ultimate destination for all-things beauty” and a “substantial opportunity” to reach millennial women who weren’t reading its stalwart magazines like InStyle and Real Simple. The goal was to get the site upwards of 5 million monthly uniques in a year or two, a former Time Inc. digital executive said.

At the time, Time Inc. was appearing rather long in the tooth compared to digital-first upstarts like BuzzFeed, Refinery29 and Vice, all of which were closing big rounds of venture capital infusions in 2015. For Time Inc., home to legacy brands like Time and Sports Illustrated, growing digitally native brands like Mimi was critical to having both digital cachet and achieving scale to match the BuzzFeeds and Refinerys.

But then reality hit. Mimi never got big enough to compete for ad dollars with digital-only startups, and advertisers shunned it. It depended on existing titles to feed it content and bounced from one sales executive to another. “No one owned it,” a former Time Inc. sales exec lamented. After a year, Mimi ceased to exist as a standalone site and became a vertical of Time Inc.’s fashion behemoth, InStyle.

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