Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Rogers will be selling advertisers' text on covers and contents pages of its magazines

Rogers Media Publishing has decided to include the names of advertisers on the covers and in the table of contents of its magazines, areas which have traditionally been off-limits. 

According to a story in the June 1 Marketing magazine (a Rogers title), Unilever Canada and Lexus/Toyota will be partnering with Maclean's, L’actualité, Sportsnet Magazine and Canadian Business as a part of an editorial series still in development. Unilever is already partnering with Chatelaine on a program promoting a "real food movement" for Hellmann's mayonnaise which will appear in the magazine's July issue. 

Christopher Loudon, the director of content solutions, said that advertisers' cover presence would be restricted to text attached to a headline; there are no plans to incorporate advertiser-related images. He said that the "rules of engagement" were determined recently during meetings with publishers and editors across the magazine group. 
Steve Maich, senior vice-president and general manager, publishing said the initiative was driven by falling print advertising revenues: 
“Given the rapidly changing media landscape, and [the] impact it’s had on the advertising business model, I would have grave misgivings about sitting back and doing nothing as print readership continues to decline and print ad budgets wither. 
“I think it’s my job to keep looking for ways to work with advertisers so that our brands thrive financially, remain competitive, and can continue to produce great stories and vital journalism that serve the needs of our readers. If I wasn’t doing that, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
The plan is, however, a direct contravention of the Magazines Industry Code of Reader and Advertiser Engagement (previously called the Advertising-Editorial Guidelines") which says “No advertisement may be promoted on cover of the magazine or included in the editorial table of contents, unless it involves an editorially directed contest, promotion or sponsored one-off editorial extra.” Another section says special advertising sections may not be promoted on the cover or in the table of contents."

Maich acknowledges this (Rogers managers were part of several task forces which developed the guidelines) but says that the rules need to be updated to reflect current realities; in effect "That was then, this is now."
“We know that maintaining the trust of our readers is paramount, and to me that means full transparency and honesty with readers on our relationships with advertisers, which we’re committed to doing,” he said. “Once a media brand adheres to this, you can then continue to innovate with clients to deliver effective messages that both meet their business objectives and deliver compelling stories
to audiences.”
The Marketing story quoted ZenithOptimedia's forecast of Canadian print magazine advertising, including an "accelerated” decline in revenue in 2014, falling 15.5% to $483 million and falling a further 10% a year through 2017, when it would be $350 million.

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