Mag Bag: 'Time,' 'Sports Illustrated' Put Ads On Cover

Time, Sports Illustrated Put Ads On Cover

Time Inc. is pushing the traditional boundary separating advertising from editorial by placing small ads on the covers of two of its most popular magazines, Time and Sports Illustrated, according to Ad Age, which first reported the news.
An examination of digital mockups of the magazine covers revealed that the first ads, for Verizon, were placed unobtrusively near the magazines’ mailing label or barcode. The small message reads, in the case of Time: “For Best Results Use Verizon See P. 23,” referring the reader to a full-page ad inside the magazine.
The ad placements are, by any standard, relatively low-profile: offset in gray boxes. They could easily be overlooked, appearing to be part of the mailing label or barcode itself. However, they do technically cross a boundary long established by the American Society of Magazine Editors, whose editorial guidelines include (indeed, begin with) “Don’t Print Ads on Covers.” It adds: “The cover is the editor and publisher’s brand statement. Advertisements should not be printed directly on the cover or spine.”
Ad Age also reports that Time Inc. is testing the waters with advertisers for larger ads that would run across the bottom of the cover, as well as native content integration into the table of contents.
Time Inc. is not the first magazine publisher to experiment with putting ads, or something resembling them, on the cover of its magazines. For example, the May issue of Cosmopolitan featured peel-away cover on subscriber copies, including a teaser for editorial content in the magazine about a contest hosted by L’Oreal.

The teaser invited readers to enter to win $500 worth of free L’Oreal Paris makeup and directs them to more editorial information inside the magazine. L’Oreal had 10 ads inside the issue, not including the editorial mention of the L’Oreal contest. Because the contest is mentioned in editorial, the peel-away cover and the mention of L’Oreal are not technically advertising, even though L’Oreal paid for them.
The Time Inc. move comes as the publisher readies to be spun off as an independent company by corporate parent Time Warner on June 6. That's not long after a corporate restructuring that did away with the barrier between business and editorial operations by having magazine editors report to division presidents.
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