Online Advertising Watch

After sitting through an SXSW panel about magazines on the iPad, Felix Salmon has a brainstorm about online advertising:

After the panel ended, I got to talking to one attendee about bridal mags, and it struck me that the bridal category could be one of the first to be truly revolutionized by the iPad. After all, bridal mags are quite unashamedly bought for the advertising content, rather than any supposedly independent editorial: the idea is that brides-to-be will flick through them, looking carefully at pretty much every ad, searching for that idea which inspires them to spend thousands of dollars on something for their wedding.

On an iPad, that experience can become much more immersive and interactive: brides could spend days if not weeks flicking through the offerings of all the different advertisers, adding various products and ideas to their virtual scrapbooks, finding local retailers for anything they’re interested in, and firing off carefully-curated scrapbooks, in PDF form, to their wedding planners, parents, bridesmaids — even occasionally the fiancé too. I don’t know how much inclusion in that kind of an app would be worth to an advertiser, especially one who jumped in and created deep wells of content rather than simply repurposing their print ads. But clearly there’s an opportunity here for brands to really connect with readers in a new and very exciting way.

Maybe! But I wonder. If the big draw of these magazines really is advertising, won’t some bright soul just start up a bridal advertising aggregation site that skips all that annoying editorial stuff in the first place? It would be nothing but a great browsing experience for ads, and since it could be run by a staff of one, the cost to advertisers would be tiny. If this took off, it could be the death of bridal magazines, not their rebirth.

Unless that editorial content turns out to be more important than we think. Upcoming brides, what say you?

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