Hello, Magazine Advertising, and Welcome to the 21st Century

It’s easy to blame the fall-off of print advertising on many factors – the rise of digital platforms, changing consumer behaviors, the massive popularity of video. But there’s been a fundamental issue with magazine advertising itself – it’s hard.

“Why is placing a national ad in multiple magazines still such an arduous, manual process?” asked D. Eadward Tree in Publishing Executive earlier this year. At the time, he advocated more industry efforts to streamline the process, in much the same way that digital ads have.

Now, the French-based market place Adwanted.com, in partnership with publishing association BPA, is making that a reality, Tree explains this week.

“Today, the two organizations announced an alliance that should make it easy for BPA-member publishers and advertisers to buy and sell print ads, newsletter and event sponsorships, list rentals, and even digital ads via the Adwanted platform,” he writes.

“For ad agencies, finding relevant magazine brands, selecting from their specific offerings, and buying ads for a multi-publisher campaign could become nearly as easy as shopping on Amazon,” he continues.

According to Joseph Lagani, who is spearheading Adwanted’s inroads in the U.S. market, publishers pay a single-digit percentage fee, while the platform is free for ad buyers. The exchange is also careful to steer clear of the kind of contextual disasters that can happen when ad buying goes completely programmatic. 

“Neither organization uses the word ‘programmatic’  in explaining the Adwanted marketplace because it does not involve machines selling to machines,” Tree explains. “Hansen describes the marketplace as ‘programmanual’  – programmatic in the sense that the process of selecting publishers and buying ads is automated, but manual in the sense that humans are not removed from the process.”

“That automation,” he continues, “addresses a major weakness that has hindered print advertising: In comparison with competing media, it takes too long, too many emails, and too much paperwork to book a magazine ad.”

This kind of thing is a long time coming. As an industry, we are getting much better at talking about the advantages of print ads and explaining the trust bump of printed magazines. Advertisers are realizing that their print audience is a high-value item, and view print ads as a place to engage and build relationships. Now, finally, it looks like it may be a lot easier to buy and place those valuable ads – without the devastating risks inherent in the digital ad exchange game.