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Sponsored Content Controversy

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 2:13 PM

In the news: Examining the recent The Atlantic sponsored advertising controversy.

Earlier this month, the concept of "native advertising" came under fire when The Atlantic ran content sponsored by the Church of Scientology. The piece, much like advertorials in other publications, was designed to look like regular editorial content. Social media exploded with commentary on the sponsorship.

The Atlantic responded swiftly to the reader outrage and pulled the article from its website. In its statement, the publication seemed apologetic and anxious to reassess its advertising policies.

However, debates about the ad and sponsored advertising strategy rage on. Sponsored editorial content presents a compelling revenue stream for magazine publishers; however, many publishing professionals and readers question the ethics of presenting ads as editorial content. As evidenced by the Atlantic controversy, publishers must also consider whether or not an advertiser meshes with their brand identity and readers. Read more about the debate here.

Also Notable

Taking a Page from Ebook Publishers' Book

Digital magazine publishing is still in its infancy, while major book publishers are seeing 20 percent of their revenue from ebook sales. What can magazine publishers learn from their book publishing cousins? A recent PaidContent.org article discusses some of the book industry's greatest digital successes (and failures) of the past few years. Read more here.

Digital Magazine Price Hikes?

Many publishers are still struggling to remain profitable, particularly with freight costs rising and falling ad revenue. Some have passed the cost on to the readers by raising digital edition prices. The problem with this strategy, according to a recent ReadWrite.com article, is that readers wind up feeling exploited, particular when they must pay more for digital, which costs less to distribute than print. Read the article here.

Hearst's iPad-First Schedule

Tablet editions have provided much-needed revenue to many magazines. Hearst is embracing this success and has altered its publishing schedule accordingly: Earlier this month, the publishing giant started offering iPad editions of 22 magazines several days ahead of their print editions. Read more here.

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