Ad Sales

How Brands Are Switching Up Their Approach to Magazine Advertising

By: Leonie Roderick


Magazine brands are having a tough time. Sales are falling, and you only have to look at the latest ABC figures to see how fast.

Women’s weeklies are particularly struggling. The circulation of Time Inc’s Look was down 35.4% in the first half of 2017, with sales for Woman magazine down 17.6%. Men’s titles, TV listings and home interest publications also saw sharp declines. News and current affairs titles fared a lot better, in part due to the tumultuous news agenda – thanks Donald Trump.

Simultaneously, advertisers seem to be moving away from the medium. Total ad spend was £877m in 2016, a decline of 6.8% compared to 2015 according to AA/Warc figures. It forecasts that ad spend will drop by a further 8.2% in 2017.

Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders, believes this shift is due to a sentiment change among advertisers across all sectors, who prefer “shinier” digital platforms. Digital ad spend grew 13.4% in 2016 to £10.3bn.

“In digital, magazines have no particular advantage like they have in print. This is also a manifestation of a very broad shift to more short-termist marketing. The point of a lot of magazine advertising is that it’s highly visual, brand marketing, whereas what’s replacing that spend is direct response advertising online,” he says.

Despite these figures, magazines still play an important role in many brands’ media mix, and advertisers and publishers are finding new ways of working together. The days of advertorials are long gone, and instead of simply placing their creative in the right titles, many brands are eager to form integrated editorial partnerships instead.

“Brands’ starting point has changed and is now all about partnerships. They are much more integrated and are better amplified than with a purely advertorial partnership,” says Sue Todd, CEO at magazine trade body Magnetic.

The rise of the partnership

Last year, Shop Direct decided to work with a wide range of women’s titles, including Elle, Cosmopolitan, Heat, Closer, New, Red, and Marie Claire, to raise awareness of Very and up the brand’s fashion credentials.

Each magazine developed its own campaign tailored to its audience. While Heat and Closer developed native in-mag content and branded cover wraps, Elle partnered with Very to “take over” its fashion cupboard – a permanent bricks-and-mortar space. During the takeover, Elle and Very curated the most relevant items from the V range for its readers, with the activity supported by video, print and digital.

Elle opened a ‘pop-up’ fashion cupboard to allow readers to browse a V collection that had been curated by the magazine’s editors. The pop-up also offered a VIP area, where readers could have one-on-one styling sessions with the Elle fashion team.

When asked why Very still invests in magazine titles, brand lead Becky Hardman tells Marketing Week it still “wants to go where its customers are”, and that magazines still offer “great reach” as well as credibility.

She adds that the company’s most successful campaigns have been where the magazine titles looked to “push their own boundaries beyond what they’ve done before” to deliver innovative work that focuses on the consumer.

“When we’ve worked with the same editorial teams for a few different projects, the campaigns get better and better. We communicate better, which leads to better creative ideas and more impact for the customer,” she says.

Mixing print and digital


There is also an increased appetite among brands to reach people beyond the print format by creating tailored digital campaigns. Not On The High Street wanted to broaden its appeal to a more varied customer base in the run-up to Christmas. Original content was its top priority.

‘Gift Like An Editor’ was developed as an umbrella concept, which saw the editors of Hearst titles Country Living, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Red, each curate the most relevant Not On The High Street gifts for their readers. All of the products were also photographed by Hearst’s content studio, to ensure it fitted in with each individual brand.

And this tailored approach seemingly paid off. The brand claims it saw a 100% increase in shopper basket size, made £358,000 in revenue from the ‘Gift Like An Editor’ campaign product sales, and reached over 2.5 million people on social media.

Other brands prefer to take the traditional print format and see if they can give it a 21st century makeover. Earlier this month, mobile operator Three decided to bring digital and print together by creating a video-in-print cover ad as part of its ‘Go Binge’ campaign.

Three paid to produce 500 special covers of Time Out’s weekly magazine, giving readers the chance to stream behind-the-scenes footage of the new Netflix show ‘Glow’.

Jolene Sickelmore, head of communications and execution at Three UK, says print is still an attractive proposition due to its “huge reach” against its target audience of young urban commuters. Time Out currently hands out around 300,000 free magazines every week.

“We didn’t want to look at standard print options though – in light of our pioneering nature, we wanted to actually get the prop into people’s hands and show the UK what it’s like to be a Three customer. We worked with [Time Out] for a good six months on actually bringing this to life logistically,” she says.

“Publishers provide a great opportunity to do that with loyal readership and circulation. Ultimately, the more innovative and exciting ideas publishers can explore with us the better.”

When asked if Three will continue to invest in print despite its declining circulation, Sickelmore insists traditional publishers will remain “a massive part” of the partners it works with, despite a growing digital presence.

She concludes: “As many magazine and print publishers invest into their online offerings, we will continue to value them for the strong and reliable content environment they can provide. If you look at telco as a category, competitors are also still spending here and we believe that print can play an important part in the path to purchase, as well as big brand fame.”

Author: Leonie Roderick

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The Publisher's New Role In Advertising

By: AdExchanger - Jarrod Dicker, vice president of commercial product and innovation

When balancing both proactive and reactive strategies, it’s a continuous battle for publishers to decide when to push and when to pull when it comes to product innovation. With the right investment and understanding of the value it plays for agencies and clients, publishers now have a chance to help drive change in the industry.

Long gone are the days when audience and scale were enough to get ad dollars. And while audience and brand safety are still of massive importance, it’s not enough in the crowded world of media. Speed, for example, was a necessity when the Facebook Instant and Google AMP products were rolled out (reactive). Publishers worked to reduce latency to have an experience on par or better than those on platforms.

Sometimes publishers need to set the trends in order to move advertisers forward. Short-form storytelling and video were trail-blazed by publishers looking to deliver video to users in formats native to device and device behavior (proactive).

The new client and publisher relationship is one of comprehensive utility. In a world where the client must decide what assets to create and where to run them, there needs to be an awareness of how publishers can help partners be everywhere. That means being on more platforms (scale), having less flexibility with creative (investment) and less direct publisher sales (brand affiliation).

The utility role is both strategic and evolving and creates greater opportunity for direct publisher relationships. If publishers are viewed not as just destinations but as technology companies, it opens up a competitive advantage beyond audience growth.

Media Companies Are Also Tech Companies

Clients want to be everywhere but don’t have the means to adapt content for every device, platform and situation. Media companies know how to deliver content across every scenario and have already invested in building many of these things for their newsroom.

Instead of just thinking of those strategies through an editorial lens, publishers should build technologies to isolate those strategies in order to license, sell or consult with advertisers to tell stories in a variety of ways.

Your Platform Is Your Playground

Traditionally, the idea of a publisher’s audience and platform was leveraged to simply sell against. A brand wants to reach a certain audience and that audience lives on their owned-and-operated channels. It was a landscape for delivery.

However, with third-party amplification providers and platforms, that’s no longer enough to win larger campaigns and build lasting relationships. Think of your platform as a breeding ground for innovation. It’s not just a destination but a sandbox for experimentation. There are millions of consumers monthly spending time on your platform. Test new products. Get feedback. Adapt accordingly.  Repeat.

This will allow for new product findings and strengthening of all existing products. It will also open up new revenue opportunities and value for your client partnerships.

Adopt A ‘No-Silo’ Mentality

Ideas come from everywhere; establishing a no-silo mentality is critical to innovate and bring additional value to clients.

Integrate teams to develop new perspectives and ideations beyond their current silo. When building a faster advertising experience, bring in an engineer that’s never worked in advertising before. If you’re building products to make video advertising more efficient, ask a producer for perspective on the overall user experience. Often times, new perspective and breaking down barriers is where the best ideas blossom.

The media innovation misconception is that innovating means filling voids and catching up to competitors. But as a business, you’re already doing something right, so allocate a majority of your attention there. These innovations should not have a shelf life. They cannot expire. Each product and technology should be an attempt in a new direction while being agile and able to adjust based on market feedback and perception.

By building this way from the beginning, the products you build will constantly be ahead of the curve. And instead of a constant reactive approach, media companies can set the course for where the advertising industry should go in order to build better customer relationships and experiences.

Author: AdExchanger - Jarrod Dicker, vice president of commercial product and innovation

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There Would Be No Ad Blockers If There Were No Bad Ads

By: Insight News

To give a speech stating that ad blocking can improve the online ecosystem in front of an audience of publishers, marketers and advertisers take quite a lot of guts.

This article is reproduced with thanks to Native Advertising Institute, a FIPP member. See the original article here. Jesper Laursen, CEO of Native Advertising Institute, will lead a panel discussion on native advertising at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, the UK. Meet him there.

Laura Sophie Dornheim, public affairs manager at Eyeo, which is the company behind Adblock Plus, got on stage and did just that at the Native Advertising DAYS 2016. Native Advertising Institute asked her about how the company responds to the industry's criticism and what makes a good native ad. You can sign up for notifications about this year’s conference -- which will be even more awesome -- here.

“Don’t annoy your user” 

“The question; how advertisers can make ads that users will accept is pretty comprehensively answered on our website Most importantly I think is the overall rule; don’t annoy your user.

So tone down the autoplay, the flash, the pop-up. We find that ads that are static, ads that do not get into the content, do not obscure the flow of the website are the ones that use — even ad blocking users — find acceptable.”

Why ad blocking can improve the online ecosystem

“We think ad blocking can approve the online ecosystem because if we look at the development of online advertising we see that it turned into this vicious cycle where users are annoyed by ads or they just don’t click them, so what advertisers do — and even publishers do because they have the same interest in making money — is to try to create louder ads, flashier ads, bigger ads in the hopes to get more revenue through that.

But what actually happens is that users are getting more annoyed, more users install ad blockers and it’s just getting worse. We believe that with our approach of blocking these annoying ads but letting through some acceptable ads we can actually improve the overall quality of the web and therefore also allow publishers and advertisers to be successful with some ads by working with the users instead of against them.”

The two most important criteria for native ads

“I think again the most important is trying not to annoy users but to show them relevant stuff. That’s the most important criteria for native advertising; that it should fit what users are looking at at this specific website.

The second most important thing for native advertising is that it should be clearly labelled as advertising; don’t try to fool your users. Users are smart and they usually don’t like if you try to trick them. It might work once or even twice but after the third time, they will install an ad blocker.

So if you have native advertising that’s recommending other articles to read try to be relevant, try to be clear about which one is a link to another article on the same website and which ones are actually native advertising. That can work and it’s proven by acceptance and click rates.

“We understand that publishers are under enormous pressure” 

“Our response to the criticism [of Acceptable Ads] from publishers is actually quite simple. Of course, we do understand that publishers are under enormous pressure in the online ecosystem; they are losing money from users that use ad blockers.

So we offer a compromise. We say, “OK, obviously you can’t continue like this because your users do not like it but if you work with us and if you try to follow the acceptable ads criteria you can regain some of that ad revenue that’s lost.

What we’re trying to explain to publishers is that we are not just working against them — like many of the ad blockers that block everything — but we’re trying to facilitate a compromise.

Of course, some will say we’re still part of the problem. But we say we’re part of the solution because there would be no ad blockers if there were no shitty ads, right?

So we really try to emphasise that we are the only ad blocker that has implemented such compromise and has various other projects where we try to find ways for publishers to make money off their content.”

Online advertising will be unchanged for years to come

“I think there are two answers to that. One is utopian; that we have very limited advertising that is only super relevant and that advertisers become so smart that they actually send me an ad for something that I really need like diapers for a baby because we just used the last one.

The second one which is the realistic one. I think — and that is also our opinion as a company — we will see online advertising pretty much unchanged for years to come.

Many users are OK with the current model of getting free content for seeing ads so I think the majority of advertising will just continue to develop like it is now.

But [eventually] the advertising industry will be forced to change their approach towards users and that’s where we come into play.”

Author: Insight News

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