Media Perspective: Launching women's title could work for The Mailon Sunday

Many actions in life are counter-intuitive. We all bear daily witness to bizarre acts such as the squirting of tomato ketchup on to baked beans already covered in tomato sauce.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that The Mail on Sunday is launching its You women's magazine as a standalone title. "What madness is this?" you are tempted to ask. "Who on earth will pay £1 for a magazine placed on newsstands two days after it was on sale as part of a much larger newspaper package costing £1.30?"

Plenty of people, the MoS team reckons. From last Tuesday, it has been pumping 150,000 copies of You on to newsstands in London in the hope of shifting 50,000 paid-for copies a week. A move at odds with a newspaper market that seems intent on giving stuff away - from the countless free DVDs that are flooding the market to free newspapers such as Metro and City AM to competitors to You in the women's market such as The Observer's fine, and free, recent fashion magazine launch.

So what is the rationale behind the paid-for launch of You, a title that has been available as part of the MoS package since 1984? Well, first, the MoS says it gives women the chance to buy the product seven days a week. And it does offer some improvement on the Sunday edition - boasting similar "silk" paper quality to Emap's weekly trailblazer Grazia and a greater editorial-to-advertising ratio.

Simon Davies, the MoS ad director, also reckons that the title will serve a secondary function, working as a sampler for"dabblers" who might only buy the newspaper once a month but might be persuaded to buy more regularly.

On the advertising front, we'll wait and see. Some agencies are resisting paying £1,000 a page to appear in the paid-for, but You is boasting of a full book of 24 full-page ads for the first week.

The specifics of the You launch might baffle some magazine experts (and some of Associated Newspapers' rivals are at a loss to explain it) but it seems to be part of a wider, positive trend for newspaper owners to try to reclaim some of the ground they have lost as content providers.

It at least emphasises the idea that quality content should be paid for and that newspaper owners are well placed to provide it. It's a principle Associated's rival News International would endorse - it is pumping £6 million into supporting its new Sunday Times insideout title on newsstands.

Though this launch is through News International's specialist magazine offshoot News Magazines, the masthead link with The Sunday Times serves to reinforce the editorial values of the newspaper mother brand. Maybe there is method in the madness that is the newspaper industry.