Cover Wrap – a Solid Ad Tactic in the Magazine Biz

In the world of print magazine advertising, there’s one tactic that’s standing out as a winner in the current landscape.

“The tactic is sponsored cover wraps – typically a four-page piece placed atop the regular front and back covers of select copies,” explains D. Eadward Tree in Dead Tree Edition. He gives an example of a recent Forbes cover wrap sponsored by Marcum Group.

“The continued success of sponsored cover wraps, especially on copies sent to non-subscribers, has valuable lessons for all magazine publishers that rely on advertising,” Tree continues.

“Several companies, such as Audience Innovation, CoverWrap Communications and MNI, are in the business of selling advertising programs that involve cover wraps placed on highly respected magazines and sent to custom mailing lists,” he continues.

It’s a form of direct mail and target marketing that plays off the value of the printed magazine, according to Paul Kostial of Audience Innovation, a company that specializes in building cover wrap touch point campaigns. And it’s a fantastic way for publishers to unlock the potential of their first-party data and increase paid subscriber revenue.

“A lot of our clients use our campaigns because they are not big enough necessarily to be in the magazine full run with ad pages,” Kostial told Tree in an interview. He says sales revenue at his company was up last year, when the U.S. magazine ad market overall continued to drift down, and it’s continuing to grow in 2019 with more and more advertisers and agencies engaging offline touch point platforms, combined with their online targeting strategies.

“It’s really hitting home right now, especially with a lot of clients who are still having a hard time with their digital strategy,” Kostial explained. 

That’s because, Tree tells us, these kinds of campaigns can focus specifically on two key groups – affluent readers and business decision-makers, among others like point-of-care and retail targets, out-of-home specialty platforms offered by Audience Innovation.

“Using a multitude of data sources, Audience Innovation follows the client’s specifications to create a hyper-targeted mailing list that often has fewer than 5,000 names,” Tree notes. “From a stable of more than 400 titles, including offerings from most of the major consumer publishers, AI and the client select the magazine most likely to appeal to the target audience.”

Kostial claims that among the C-suite executives these advertisers are often trying to reach, response is solid. He reported a 56% return rate among one campaign, and says another company is getting “100 times better response there than they are on their digital campaigns to the same target.”

One of the benefits of this kind of approach is the affordability factor. As Tree notes, a full page spread inside a mass magazine is out of reach for smaller companies – but a tightly targeted cover wrap campaign can get them solid exposure on the same trusted platform, for a price that’s within reach. And with the kinds of ROI some brands are seeing, we expect this idea to pick up steam.

“Magazine people like to complain that web advertising has ‘turned print dollars into digital dimes,’” Tree writes. “Cover-wrap campaigns flip the tables, turning digital dimes into print C-notes.”

“So maybe magazine publishers should stop complaining and start figuring out how they too can leverage data and their trusted brands to create high-value campaigns for advertisers,” he concludes.

Preach, Tree.