You are currently browsing the archives for September, 2013.

Brilliant Native Advertising on the Cover of Print Magazine

Print Magazine fish cover

I spotted this in illustrator Wendy MacNaughton’s Instagram feed.

MacNaughton painted the cover art for a recent issue of Print Magazine: A big fish being held by a somewhat smaller fisherman. The cover includes the standard utilitarian elements of a newsstand magazine — the magazine’s title, the issue date, cover lines that tell you about articles inside — but most of the cover’s real estate is given over to MacNaughton’s artwork. It’s the art (or photography), after all, that draws our attention to a particular issue of a magazine. You might say art (or photography) is the native language of magazine covers.

If you’re an advertiser that pays a premium to place your ad on the back cover, then, you would be well advised to do whatever you can make your ad’s creative design as awesome as the artwork on the front cover.

Print Magazine with fish on cover

Or, in the case Shutterstock, the back-cover advertiser for this issue of Print, you might just let the artwork from the front cover spill right into your ad. Then, anyone who wants to enjoy the full Wendy MacNaughton fish illustration needs to open the magazine, turn it face down, and view at the front and back covers — including the Shutterstock message behind the fish’s tail — at the same time.

As the artist herself puts it, “bonus: we got the advertising to support the art. high five, print mag.”

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

This ad is awesome, right?

I mean, it’s a viral sensation that’s been viewed millions of times. And in a world where people skip 30-second TV spots and click on YouTube’s “Skip Ad” after 3 interminable seconds, it’s impressive to find yourself watching a 3-minute commercial to the end. But I find myself asking, was it a good commercial?

In a post on product design, Andrew Chen talks about the tradeoff between virality and alignment with your value proposition.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 1.35.58 PM

It might be useful to plot ad creatives on a similar chart, but with the horizontal axis renamed “brand alignment.” So I had my infographics guy whip this up:

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

Every now and then a brand creates a commercial that tells its story and everyone is talking about it: Awesome. Examples might be Coke’s Mean Joe Green commercial from my youth (and I’m still talking about it, thirstily), or anything from Apple. They create emotional experiences we want to share with others, and they make us desire a product at the same time.

Most commercials fall short of that magic but they’re good enough to watch, and with some frequency they can do their job of luring us into the mouth of the purchase funnel. Car and cosmetics commercials generally land here; nothing much to talk about, but we’d all like to look like those handsome happy people on TV. It’s been working for decades, and it still works.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a 2-by-2 matrix that doesn’t have a lower left quadrant. To steal from Andrew Chen, it’s the land of WTF. When I see a commercial that I don’t want to talk about and I can’t remember who made it, I sort of feel bad. All that money and marketing-department optimism gone to waste. Look, it’s hard to make a great film, let alone a great one that can be told in half a minute and also highlights a product. Perhaps we should admire the brands that depart from the traditional promotional formula and flap their waxy wings toward a higher ambition, even if the heat of the sun sends them crashing down in the end.

But back to the Thai cellphone commercial above. The vertical axis is hardly tall enough to capture its viral success. But does the story make you want to switch your cellphone service to True Move H? Did you know it was a commercial from a cellphone company called True Move H? In my case, I was dabbing tears from my eyes for the few seconds during which their logo appeared on screen. No doubt True Move made a great short film, but if I consider it a marketing tool, I’d place in the upper left quadrant: (Un)Branded Entertainment that fails as an advertisement.

2013 US Advertising Growth Includes Print Magazines Too

According to new data from Kantar Media, US advertising spending for Q2 2013 is up 3.5% over the same period in 2012, to $35.8 billion. Cable TV made the greatest gains, up 14.9%, and Spanish-language TV was up 6.1%. On the other side of roster, newspaper advertising is down 4.3%.

September Magazine Issues

The most interesting news to me, though, is the section on print magazines. Ad revenues for consumer magazines are up 1.9%, although (if you want to quibble over the details) they sold fewer ad pages than last year, each one at a higher average rate. And Sunday magazines, the magazines inside newspapers, grew ad revenues by 4.1% — the same rate by which Internet display ad revenue grew.

Digging into individual titles shows more signs of vitality. The September issue of Vogue is the fattest since 2008 — 665 pages of ads — and the September Elle just broke the record for highest page count ever for a Hearst publication. W, Bon Appetit, Allure, Teen Vogue and Glamour all had their best Septembers since the 2008 financial crisis. The Atlantic, with its diversified approach across print, digital and events, is on a tear.

Who’d a thunk it?