Feature: The new magazines, part 3

In this three-part strategy magazine feature, writer Melita Kuburas looks at how magazines are reinventing themselves in the face of a rapidly changing mediaverse. Today, she looks at innovations in print advertising.

In this three-part strategy magazine feature adapted for Media in Canada, writer Melita Kuburas looks at how magazines are reinventing themselves in the face of a rapidly changing mediaverse. In the third and final instalment, a look how traditional print advertising is changing to meet the needs of a transmedia audience.

In today’s media environment, print advertising is increasingly not just about single- or double-page spreads. In fact, many of the most innovative print campaigns today are anchored on the page, but also include digital strategies involving social media or online elements.

Today’s Parent, for instance, last fall worked with Microsoft and M2 Universal on an cover execution where parents could upload photos of their kids online and have the issue sent to them with their child on the cover.

In April, Elle Canada launched a contest with Mattel’s Barbie whereby readers could style their own Barbie online for a chance to win a custom-tailored little black dress, created by the winner of the New Labels Fashion Design Competition (sponsored by Barbie). The buy, handled by Carat, featured a glossy mock-cover insert with Barbie as the cover model, and various Teresas and Skippers modelling little black numbers with drive-to-web callout.

For the same issue, the cover was wrapped in a pink (matching Barbie) Maybelline New York ad that stretched across the cover to prove that the brand’s cover-up foundation is durable and flexible, ‘beyond any stretch of the imagination.’

Dynamite, a Canadian clothing retailer, also partnered with Elle Canada and Elle Quebec to launch a viral campaign that places the viewer in a gossip-entertainment style video, and puts her face on the Elle cover. Arranged internally by the brand, the effort was promoted on ElleCanada.com and ElleQuebec.com.

Saunders recently executed a unique buy for client P&G that extended to the web property of Canadian House & Home magazine. The execution featured four cleaning and laundry products in a mini-mag, titled Clean Style, that ran in the May issue. The mini-mag drove to an online product scavenger hunt, in which consumers could win $20,000 by spotting items in a video featuring designer Lynda Reeves.

However, the paucity of this type of innovative digital opportunity for advertisers is frustrating to Saunders, and she is not satisfied with ‘we’re working on it,’ which is what she’s hearing from some Canadian publishers. ‘They’re behind in this market. The iPad has been out here for months – okay, so now what? There are no applications from them.’ They should be leading in this area, but many are not, she says.

In the fashion and parenting categories, despite the fact that both parents and the fashion crowd are digitally savvy groups, Rogers titles Flare and Today’s Parent have not executed any mobile applications. But Kerry Mitchell, VP and publisher, Rogers Consumer Publishing, who handles both titles, says they are active in the social media and digital realm, and she is not afraid of losing readers to mommy blogs and wannabe fashionistas. Today’s Parent has almost 50,000 followers on Twitter and is active on other social media sites, as is Flare, which has a small but active following on Facebook.

Magazines seem to be building in the social space in order to get the platforms – and their readers – advertiser-ready.

Fashion magazine has a multimedia producer on staff. It offers ‘behind-the-cover’ videos on its website as well as a music channel hosted by MTV Canada’s Dan Levy. Vlogger contests and music videos on Fashionmagazine.com provide fun for readers, but these offerings have not yet been monetized.

‘I think nobody knows 100% how to monetize this,’ says Lilia Lozinski, SVP, St. Joseph Media and the publisher of Fashion. However, utilizing their multimedia producer, the brand produces videos of hosted client events and brand partners (they developed three fashion vids for Holt Renfrew). ‘In a sense we’re almost providing a creative service,’ says Lozinski. ‘I think we’re still finding our way.’

Magazine publishers do know their readers, and with competition from pure play online brands, what they can offer to advertisers online is the strength of their brand and the pedigree of their editorial staff.

‘These are proven players in the marketplace who have successfully worked in the offline world,’ says Mindshare’s Hughes. ‘Does that immediately guarantee success in the online world? Well no, but at least they know their readers very well and they know how to produce a product that will attract a certain audience.’