Advertising dollars for print magazines are getting more difficult to come by these days, so it’s no wonder that publishers like Condé Nast are trying to get more creative with cover placements.
Likely in an attempt to do just that, a campaign promoting Google’s soon-to-be-released Pixel 3 smartphone is set to roll out across many of Condé’s print titles, WWD has learned. The campaign is set to kick off with the phone being used as the camera for the cover shoots of Condé’s November issues, sources say. It’s unclear whether the images will be demarcated in some way as advertising, as is suggested by editorial guidelines of the American Society of Magazine Editors for any paid placements.
Such a broad campaign with a tech player isn’t exactly uncharted territory for Condé. In 2012, it rolled out a series of wraparound covers promoting Windows 8, which, despite the typical print ads for the operating system, Condé said had not been specifically paid for. The company could take that line again, but it does have a preexisting relationship with Google.
In the fall, Vogue rolled out a partnership with Google Home as part of the magazine’s 125th anniversary September issue, which included some added voice content from contributors about items and celebrities in the magazine. Around the same time, Lisa Green was named vice president of fashion and luxury for Condé, leaving Google after more than a decade, five years of which were spent as head of industry, fashion and luxury.
Green left Condé in August for a position leading brand partnerships at a start-up operating in “stealth mode,” WWD has also learned, but as magazine covers are generally completed months in advance, she likely spearheaded the partnership with Google.
Google also hosts Condé’s archive and the search engine’s tools and products often find their way into Condé stories, like Condé Nast Traveller items on using Google Maps and the best time to buy flights according to Google. The publisher also creates a lot of content for YouTube, which Google owns, last month telling Google’s “Think With Google” marketing initiative that Condé brands have about 17 million YouTube subscribers and are adding an average of one million a month.
As for Google, which has managed somewhat to escape the ire of publishers for taking so much ad revenue (its ad revenue has outstripped all U.S. print publishers combined since 2012, according to Statsia data) for itself, mainly by being more of an eager partner of publishers, its use of print advertising is rare. The company’s last and biggest print advertising push came in 2016, pushing the first generation Pixel, but that was more focused on newspapers, with big ads and even a few cover wraps. Prior to that, there was a print campaign in 2012 focused on safe browsing practices and privacy for Google search users, but the partnership with Condé looks to be a first broad campaign with a glossy magazine publisher.
Representatives of Condé and Google declined to comment.
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