Magazines have always been more upfront with their connection between content and ads that other forms of journalism.
I mean, it never surprised when a bicycle with good review from a bicycle magazine’s writers was also advertised in the same issue. I figured that was part of the deal. Buy ad space, supply a bike to be tested and you get a review along with your ad.
A trend over the past decade or so has been to be even more upfront about this connection, with magazines giving advertisers more reign and input over content, with blah results, in my opinion.
I’ve read articles that seemed like legit articles and then realized a few paragraphs in it was an informercial and felt deceived.
I’ve seen sidebars to articles contributed by sponsors that were wholly whatever plain vanilla would be if you took out the vanilla.
But, the latest Bicycling magazine had the coolest attempt at this that I’ve seen.
Suburu wanted to advertise its Outback, and Bicycling editors sent a couple employees on a trip to a cool place to ride — they ended up at a mountain climb near Tuscon, AZ that I never heard of — to ride it and write about the ride and their experience in the Outback. Plus the whole thing was foldout ‘centerfold’.
It’s also a good example of good innovation. In hindsight this seems like an obviously good way to combine interesting content and ads. But, I hadn’t seen this variation before. It’s taken quite a few years and trial-and-errors to get to this, what seems like an obvious and natural, mutation.