Even in the deep dark depths of the Great Magazine Die-Off a half-decade ago, struggling print magazines did not get so desperate as to breezily stick ads on the cover of their struggling print editions. Hey, times have changed.
Now we are in 2015, the Age of #Content—an age in which publishers hope to convince you, the consumer, that there is not a meaningful line between "advertising" and "editorial," because at the end of the day, it is all #Content. Right? Sure, sure.
Ad Age reports that Forbes—once a respected business magazine and now essentially an online blogging platform with low standards that also produces a print magazine on the side—has a Fidelity ad on the cover of its print edition this week. And not just an ad ad, but a native ad, meaning "an ad that would like you, the casual reader, not to notice that it is an ad at all." The ad is a teaser for a Fidelity-sponsored "infographic about retirement." So you see, it is #Content, my friend.
"We view this as strong content that's part of the retirement package," said Mark Howard, Forbes Media's chief revenue officer... "[Forbes editor] Lewis [D'vorkin] deemed it was appropriate for Fidelity to be called out on the cover just like any other great piece of content would be," said Mr. Howard
Putting ads on your magazine cover is a bad precedent. Putting native ads on your magazine cover is worse. And being the editor of a magazine whose "chief revenue officer" puts native ads on the cover and then says that you're fine with it because it's "just like any other great piece of content" is really a great example of being forced to eat shit. (This is the most generous possible interpretation of the situation.)