Cosmopolitan Magazine Innovates with it’s L’Oreal Sponsored Cover

 

Cosmopolitan magazine is causing a bit of a stir with its upcoming May issue cover. No, it’s not promoting a risque sex survey or planning to scoop Vogue with a Kimye cover of its own. Rather, the publication has the audacity to feature a pasted-on cover for its subscription copies, sponsored by L’Oreal Paris. The extra cover was produced by the edit staff and includes a tease about a L’Oreal contest alongside actual unpaid editorial cover lines. Traditionalists are asking, “Is this a blurring of the lines?”Fashionista raised the question of whether Cosmo had possibly violated The American Society of Magazine Editors’ guidelines.

Are they kidding? Right now, the publishing world should be challenging convention. It needs to. The media industry is being disrupted and the traditional business model isn’t keeping up. Newspapers have been decimated. The magazine business isn’t far behind. According to the Association of Magazine Media, ad pages have fallen a staggering 40% in the past five years. This despite the fact that magazines are showing increased readership when measured across print and digital channels. The magazine publishing industry doesn’t have an audience issue — it has a revenue issue.

For publishers to survive and thrive, they need to find more ways to attract marketing dollars. I applaud this initiative by Cosmo’s publisher Hearst and kudos also to L’Oreal for picking it up. The magazine industry has to find more creative and commercial ways to monetize its assets.

Just providing eyeballs for ads isn’t enough, because in media, there’s no shortage of them.

Total television viewing hours continue to climb. The supply of online display ad impressions appears almost infinite. Time spent with social media is now over three hours a day, up from nothing seven years ago. And the increased access to media via mobile is adding to the daily media diet. As a result, the value of the ad impression is diminishing.

Magazines have assets that brands want. Magazines have insight into what engages readers. They know how to continue to stay relevant and current. They create content that people notice and share. They provide ideas. Finding new ways to tap into and integrate with this content is a whole lot more exciting for brands than interruption.

But will this turn off consumers?

Consumers get that someone has to pay for the content. Most consumers are savvy and pragmatic when it comes to advertising.

They know that advertising subsidizes their magazines. They understand that advertising by and large pays for their favorite TV shows, nearly all the content on the Internet, Google and Facebook, and even public radio.

Of course, if you ask a consumer if they want advertising, they will answer “no.” But the increased time consumers are spending with commercial media suggests that consumers accept the exchange.

Advertising is evolving. Consumers also know that the face of “advertising” is changing. We continue to add dozens of new formats. We now have: native ads, custom commercials on Jimmy Kimmel, Ford music videos on American Idol, sponsored stories, branded entertainment,unbranded content, viral videos, crowd-sourced content, influencer marketing, music/artist collaborations, mobile apps, in-game brand experiences, newsroom generated real-time messaging and value brand exchanges. Not only do consumers accept these newer forms of “advertising,” they are actually talking about them when they’re clever.

In the context of these added media channels, a sponsored cover seems tame.

Smart brands and publishers will always default to the reader’s point of view. I believe that most brands understand the importance of showing care in how they talk to consumers in these newer media formats. Crucial to this is respecting their time and intelligence. L’Oreal could have been more overt. But it appears they let the editors guide them. In today’s social-media driven world, they will quickly hear if things start to wrangle.

We all want a healthy magazine industry. For that to happen, magazines need to be more attractive for brands. Innovating and experimenting with new solutions can only be a good thing.

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Media Companies Are Betting on Hyperlocal, But Will Brands Follow?

Google, Nike Making Plays But Most Marketers Will Need Better Payout to Shift National Dollars to Regional

By:  Published in AdAge: August 14, 2012

It’s rare these days to hear a positive story about the newspaper industry, but I recently learned of the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer, a newspaper in South Wales that decided to bet its future on a hyperlocal strategy. It focused almost entirely on covering local news, local people and local events while soliciting community-generated content — a package not provided by the larger county or national titles. It was rewarded with a doubling of its circulation.

Its owners say their success comes down to remaining local, personal and relevant to their community. That idea has a lot of merit for national brands in the U.S.

We are programmed to play nationally. The national 30-second spot in an “American Idol” or an NFL game is king. While there is clearly an efficiency and value in maintaining a national presence, however, it’s become even more important to engage consumers in order to truly grow brands — or disrupt your competitors. It’s also becoming harder to do. Being relevant locally, as the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer discovered, can be a powerful recipe for growing market share.

“There’s no such thing as a national customer,” a client once said to me. “Just lots of local ones.” And it takes insight into local tastes, local demographics, local issues and local competitors to be relevant and win the consumer. Organize national, act local is starting to get some traction. But the media are leading the way.

Media properties’ local targeting is increasingly offering more precision. Hyperlocal websites are providing local content and localized national advertising platforms by individual towns.

Google recently announced last month the ability to buy search by ZIP code, and again bet on local yesterday when it said it had agreed to buy Frommer’s, including 350 travel guides and a website covering more than 3,500 locations.

Addressable TV is beginning to scale. By end of year, we will be able to target by individual household in 22 million homes. And the large national radio groups have become highly effective on-the-ground local marketing partners on-air, off-air and online.

The question is whether major national and international marketers will invest the time and money to take advantage.

Some sophisticated marketers are moving in that direction. Walmart has introduced a Facebook app customizing marketing for each of its nearly 3,600 U.S. locations, including a dynamic social billboard that serves as an electronic circular with details of sales, special product deals and recipe suggestions. This is a smart local program to move the huge national chain closer to its community.

Nike has been creating city-specific epicenters to spark buzz and credibility for its brand. Its global online reality web competition series “The Chosen” was fueled by local grassroots skating and surfing events. In the U.K., Nike held a 15-day challenge for runners across 48 different post codes in London, using some nifty technology to measure and rank their performance.

The increasing ubiquity, not to mention portability, of mobile media will almost guarantee that all marketers will need a mobile media strategy. And central to that strategy is the ability to embrace location-based messaging and promotion.

National brands are experimenting there. L’Oreal promoted its Vichy line using timeRAZOR, a mobile app to promote and schedule one-on-one beauty consultations at Duane Reade locations in New York, an effort that led to a 150% increase in sales for that promotion.

Search is clearly another major opportunity, with the BIA/Kelsey Group that local searches on mobile phones will exceed local searches on desktop computers by 2015. Perhaps the iPhone’s Siri, which uses Yelp’s reviews, will start to offer brand recommendations in the not-too-distant future.

But ultimately most marketers will need a better payout to shift national dollars to local, posing a riddle for the media companies betting so much of their own money on a local strategy. Data will have to be the compass for media sellers and buyers alike. Mobile ad network xAd recently published data showing that locally-targeted mobile display ads deliver 5% to 8% click-through rates, compared to 0.6% for typical mobile display ads.

There’s no doubt that local will be an increasing play for national marketers. It’s what brands need to do to engage consumers and grow. However, it is going to be more challenging for marketers to execute and more costly and complex to orchestrate. But the possibilities are exciting.