Canadian Magazine Industry News
30 April 2012,     TORONTO
Advertisers buy 'great ideas': CAJ magazine panelist
For magazine publishers to pull in advertisers, they need great ideas, said the vice president of corporate sales for Rogers Publishing during the first day of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) in Toronto on Friday.

Coming up with great ideas may be easier said than done, but Brandon Kirk showed off at least one campaign he thinks fits that mold. Rogers (Sportsnet) devised a solution to support Toyota's "Brilliant Idea" imagery in ads, which incorporate an image of a lightbulb. The result was the "smart integration" of a lightbulb image with a pull quote in an editorial piece. "I don't think it's crossing any lines," he said of aligning editorial and ads.

From left is Brenda Bookbinder, Brandon Kirk, Lynn Chambers, and Martin White
From left is Brenda Bookbinder, Brandon Kirk, Lynn Chambers, and Martin White

Kirk was one of four panelists, along with Martin Seto, moderator and Masthead blogger/Godengo+Texterity country manager, to discuss the state of the magazine industry. Other panelists included Brenda Bookbinder, vice president of media investments for Novus Canada; Lynn Chambers, group publisher for TC Media; and Martin White, principal with Online Magazine Marketing.

"Smart integration" advertising from Rogers Publishing

Kirk also said magazines should be jumping on new opportunities, such as using 'social snap tags' which act in principle like QR codes to link print to websites via smartphone, but are apparently more attractive and can be branded. Glamour magazine has used these snap tags woven throughout its content to garner hundreds of thousands of 'likes' on Facebook, he said.

Rogers is also using these snap tags; for example, in the June 2012 Lou Lou (Toronto edition), there's a contest to find the secret snap tag for a chance to win a $1,590 prize from Birks.

Glamour cover using Facebook 'social snap tag'
Glamour cover using Facebook 'social snap tag'

Bookbinder, speaking as a media buyer, noted, "Advertisers are looking for reliable content they can associate their brand with, so their message can break through. For the advertiser it's a challenge, there's so much out there."

"What the advertiser wants to feel is safe, and that they're not wasting time and money. They want to be innovative, but they want to make sure it works."

Some advertisers are going the "paid, earned and owned" route to engaging their audience, said Chambers, noting some are publishing their own content on Facebook for example. "They can deal direct (with the customer)," she said.

It's now about a "pull" experience "rather than us creating content and pushing it out there," added Chambers. "We've had to embrace readers as participants in our brand. We've been able to do that, because magazines are still trusted."

On the subject of content, and whether it's still "king" and has value, White said the fastest growing revenue stream is membership sites. He also said allowing "micro-payments" — asking for $4.95 a month instead of $60 — is an effective strategy.

  At the end of the day, quality rises to the top. That's your challenge and your opportunity."
- Martin White
White had used an example of a website that offers piano lessons for money, not a particular publication. But that doesn't mean publishers aren't trying the online pay model; Postmedia newspapers (National Post) are one example of a company growing a system for online payment.

White added on the subject of content, "At the end of the day, quality rises to the top. That's your challenge and your opportunity."
— Jeff Hayward
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