The Thin Ad Line: Pros and Cons for Food Magazine Advertorial and Content Marketing

foodnetwork_june.jpgAs an admitted cookbook junkie, I tend to err on the side of the more the merrier when it comes to the number of recipes included in my favorite food magazines. But I can’t decide where to draw the line when it comes to advertorials, or what is called content marketing–ads that engage a reader with recipes or coupons with the aim of furthering the reader’s experience through the purchase of a product.

Pro: Quantity, quantity, quantity. Like I said, I love recipes. No matter that I don’t have the time, the need or the waistline for 50 different cookie, pancake or burger variations, I still want the option–and the directions–to make them all.

Con: Obviously, readers turn to food magazines for recipes, and if they’re like me, they prefer getting lost in Food Network Magazine’s creative ideas or Every Day With Rachael Ray’s cooking tips and tricks. But the maze of advertorial and content marketing makes it hard to navigate and determine which recipes are the magazine’s and which are the advertisers’.

What I would consider a hazy or at least muddled advertising-editorial boundary is attributed in part to Food Network Magazine‘s sizzling success with the strategy. I can’t say that I disagree with the effectiveness of the approach, but objectively, the journalist in me has to wonder how far this trend will go. Is this just the apex of a slippery slope for magazine editorial?

bonappetit_june2010.jpgJust recently, Bon Appetit magazine pushed its advertising boundaries a little further by selling the space where it prints its page numbers–what traditionally was considered as editorial space. Blame it on the bad economy, but Kraft was able to purchase ten corner ads in the June 2010 issue. Each features a different dish with the page number in a much larger font size.

Pro: To be honest, I didn’t think the corner ads were that intrusive or confusing–at least not as much as deciphering between recipes in ads and recipes in editorial in some magazines.

Con: In this instance, I can’t shake the seeming abandonment of editorial principles here. This says that editorial space, once sacred ground defended by objectivity, is for sale to the highest and most creative bidder. I realize that ads and advertorials are necessary to fund publishing ventures. But maybe it’s time to reaffirm or reorganize the attitudes toward advertising and editorial, which may be easier said than done in a recession.

Readers already complain about having to sift through too many ads to unearth magazine editorial. Blurring the lines may confuse some into acceptance, while driving others away. What do you think might happen?

This entry was posted in Food on by .
Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.