Web 2.0

Focussing on the user / Phillips on user-experience-enhancing advertising practices

At the museum recently we’ve been talking a lot about 2.0 things. Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Media 2.0. A lot of it is hype, but there are now plenty of real world examples of a new user-enabling philosophy spreading across media platforms – not just the net-enabled/threatened.

Wall Street Journal reports on a very interesting advertising move by electronics company Phillips. Apparently they have been running with the theme of ‘simplicity’ and to reinforce this brand message they have been trying out some novel advertising ploys – aimed at getting the user/reader/viewer what they want quicker (with less noise/more signal – brought to you by Phillips, of course).

Philips Electronics, which is gaining a reputation on Madison Avenue for breaking conventions in reader- and viewer-friendly ways, is paying the Time Warner magazine unit $5 million for a novel ad play. Issues of four magazines — Time, Fortune, People and Business 2.0 — will feature the table of contents on the first page; a flap on the inside front cover will tell readers Philips is making that possible. The issue of Time that’s involved goes on sale Monday, April 24.

When it comes to getting space near or before the contents page, “everyone fights for it,” says Melissa Pordy, director of media investment solutions for Cheil Communications America. “It’s sort of, for lack of a better word, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

While the table of contents guides readers, it is also used by some magazine publishers to create prime real estate for advertisers who want readers to see their products soon after opening the magazine. In fact, says one publisher, certain magazines will often spread the table of contents across two or three pages, then sprinkle those pages around the front of the book — all to create more desirable ad spots. Promising advertisers ad space before a contents page is often done to secure additional business from the advertiser during the course of a year, this publisher says.

The placement of the contents page varies from magazine to magazine. The May 1 issue of Fortune, for example, has contents on pages 11 and 14. The April 24 issue of the New Yorker has contents on page 8. And the May issue of Vogue has contents that begin on page 22. Weeklies tend to have contents pages closer to the front than bulky fashion monthlies, which carry loads of ads from designers and other relevant marketers. In those cases, say media buyers, readers use the ads to discover new offerings from favorite designers.

With the Time Inc. magazines, readers will know right away about Philips’s involvement. A flap on the inside front cover of the magazines will state: “Simplicity means not letting complexity stand in your way. It starts with the Table of Contents on the first page. And it continues with the last page where you’ll see innovative products that will change the way you live.”

This is a very interesting Media 2.0-related play and has ruffled some feathers, and is in many ways akin to a print magazine version of TiVo letting people skip advertisements to get to the content they want.