Time Magazine To Put Ad on Cover in Major Shift for News Industry

Friday, 23 May 2014 11:01 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Time magazine will hit newsstands next Friday with an ad on its cover, a first in major magazine publishing and a move many say signals a significant shift in the news landscape.

"You can either say this is a groundbreaking decision to put ads on covers after 91 years in the business or you can say this is a relatively modest reference that catches up to what's going on in the industry," said Time Inc.'s chief content officer, Norman Pearlstine. "What we didn't want to do is to be perceived that we trying to hide from it."

Advertising Age reported that the cover space dedicated to the ad, which was purchased by Verizon, is very small and takes the form of a logo and single line of text that reads "For Best Results Use Verizon." The line sits inside a grey banner just below the magazine's barcode for now, but could grow to take up the bottom edge of the cover, according to sources who've seen several of the company's mockups.

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Time Inc., the flagship entity that houses the magazine division of parent company Time Warner, is set to be spun off in June "to fend for itself" on the New York Stock Exchange. Media critics say the company is trying to shore up funds and exhibit money-making potential ahead of its debut.

Major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times began selling ads on their covers just a few years ago, and were met with criticism from those who said it compromised their journalistic integrity. The same is now being said about Time and sister publication Sports Illustrated, which will also run a similar ad on its next issue.

"You can go ahead and mark May 22, 2014, as the day magazine covers died," wrote Media Bistro.

USA Today described the cover ad and company spinoff as just the latest in the ongoing "fallout in print advertising."

However small it is now, Ad Age points out that the new ad banner will violate the first rule of the American Society of Magazine Editors: "Don't Print Ads on Covers."

Because it's easily the most recognized magazine in the country, the move is sure to lead the rest of the country's glossies into new, uncharted territory.

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