Forbes the latest publisher to place native ad on cover

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A native ad for Fidelity is on the cover of the latest issue of Forbes, which hits newsstands today. The ad is on the actual cover and it’s not part of a foldout or second cover.

These ads would appear to depart from the American Society of Magazine Editors’ editorial guidelines, including the directive “Don’t Print Ads on Covers,” as we learn here.

The Fidelity ad on Forbes’ cover teases an infographic about retirement, which is part of the editorial theme of the issue. Fidelity paid for the two-page infographic to appear in the issue as part of a larger ad buy with Forbes that includes print and digital, as Ad Age writes.

“We view this as strong content that’s part of the retirement package,” said Mark Howard, Forbes Media’s chief revenue officer. Forbes’ brand newsroom, a department that works with advertisers to create content, helped produce the infographic, he added, as Ad Age notes.

The rate for BrandVoice, as Forbes calls its native advertising product, is a minimum of $600,000. It’s unclear how much Fidelity paid to be on the Forbes cover.

Ads positioned on covers have reared their head before, such as when Time ran small ads for Verizon on its cover, or when Sports Illustrated did the same for another client.

Native advertising is becoming a hot trend. Sixty-three percent of marketers plan to increase budgets earmarked for native advertising in 2015, according to a survey of 127 marketers by the Association of National Advertisers.

“The main benefit of native adverting is the ability to create extremely relevant associations between the brand and consumer via content,” the ANA study said. “Given today’s media landscape, where consumers can avoid ads more than ever, advertisers are looking for new ways to get their messages noticed and acted upon.”

Another AdAge report summed up some of the controversy and business-model concerns surrounding native advertising:

Native advertising is a sometimes controversial practice in which ads mimic the editorial content surrounding them. It’s driving revenue growth at media companies, but profit margins are usually slimmer than display advertising. That’s because native ads are typically bespoke products that require heavy lifting on the part of publishers.


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