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The Changing Rules of Magazine Advertising… And What It Tells Us About B2B Content Marketing

February 24, 2010

No surprise, Ad Age reports that magazine ad revenues are down again–that’s a ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines. No one is predicting the death of print mags of course, but the industry is only beginning to embrace the kind of cross-integration that’s been needed for years. 

“Any publisher who thinks that magazine spending is going to rebound to their levels before 2008 and 2009 is naive and deluding themselves,” said Lee Doyle, North American CEO at Mediaedge, one of the leading media agencies. “The recession is only accelerating the fundamental changes going on, he said. Spending is moving into other areas — with or without the downturn.

So what are these “fundamental changes” that are taking place? What really are the new models out there? Let’s take Lonny Magazine, a digital shelter magazine, as an example. Lonny’s founder and editor is Michelle Adams, former editor at the now-shuttered Domino Magazine. When I opened Lonny’s digital pages for the first time, it blew my mind. Why?? 

Lonny takes a whole new approach to magazine content. Yes, it offers ad pages much the same as a print magazine, but Lonny also offers something else. If you flip through the e-magazine, you’ll find that many of the items shown in the photos are linked to the retailer selling that item. Take the image below…. Do you have to have those ceramic horns or that gingham-check lamp? Just click on them and Lonny will take you to the online retailer. 

The line between content and advertising is indeed blurring, and in Lonny’s case, that blurring happens quite gracefully and effortlessly. 

So what’s a B2B content marketer doing talking about an online shelter magazine, you ask? Well, in my role I develop strategies for professional service firms to reach their audience through content–digital and print. Content marketing is that funny place between journalism and marketing, and my brain is over-full thinking about that barrier region of thought leadership and marketing. How do marketers inhabit that space gracefully? How to showcase your intelligence in a way that markets your services… without the strong-arm pitch? And what can a magazine like Lonny tell us about how quickly old models of information + advertising are changing? 

I’ll be devoting the next few blog entries to this dilemma: What are the next wave of innovations available to business marketers who favor intelligence-based marketing? As I said, my brain is over-full teasing out all the implications… but the good news is, it’s a crazy-exciting time to be a business marketer.


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