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October 15, 2010

Egad! Egregiously Intrusive Ads Conceal Editorial Content in Money and Forbes Magazines

money_october2010.jpgThis summer, Marie Fuzzell wrote about the intrusive Valspar paint ads in Dwell magazine’s June issue. Those ads were truly heinous, in part because they constituted a strip of color running through the editorial. (The art director must have had a cow!)

The latest batch of intrusive ads crop up in Money and Forbes magazines.

Let’s start with Money magazine’s October issue. This is a fantastic issue, by the way, even if you aren’t interested in the cover package on retirement planning. Other stories talk about getting upgrades, navigating customer-service roadblocks and finding the best credit-card rewards plans.

If you should happen to read Money’s retirement stories, you will come face to face with what appears to be a special advertising section for Fidelity Investments. The ad begins with a right-hand page (of course), then opens to a two-page spread. That opens to a four-page spread of, believe it or not, editorial content. Fold it all back up and there’s one more full-page Fidelity ad.

forbes_20100927.jpgI missed the hidden editorial content–retirement-planning checklists for three stages of life–the first time I went through the October issue. Once I found it, I was even more convinced that it was an advertorial, especially given the Fidelity banner running across the bottom of the pages. (A connection to Fidelity is further suggested by the use of graphic devices in a color very close to Fidelity’s signature green in the pages immediately preceding the story.)

Wow, that’s an egregious case of intrusive advertising or ad-wrapped content (not as desirable as, say, bacon-wrapped dates).

But wait, you also get…

Forbes magazine! In the Sept. 27 issue (remember, Forbes is usually published twice each month), part of a “special report on the future” is wrapped in an ad for Saab. This one has editorial content on the front and back pages, but open the two-page-spread Saab ad and you’ll find four pages of editorial–with a continuous Saab banner running along the bottom.

These ads seem to suggest the most annoying Internet advertising techniques are being adapted for print–and that’s all we need.

About the Author

Michelle Jones