Meredith Offers Extended Ad Guarantee Due to COVID-19

The publisher retools a long-tested ad program

Green background with issues of Real Simple, People and Better Homes & Gardens
Meredith has offered a print sales guarantee for years and has experimented with extending that before. Meredith

Key insight:

As print advertising dollars continue to dry up amid COVID-19, publishers are going back to the drawing board for programs they can offer buyers to sweeten the deal.

Meredith, the publisher of magazines such as People, Better Homes & Gardens and Real Simple, will offer a new print guarantee program to advertisers who buy a minimum of five ads in two of the publisher’s brands running in issues from May through December. The guarantee: that readers will take action.

Under the program, called the Meredith Audience Action Guarantee, the publisher will work with clients to determine which actions they want consumers to take after seeing their advertisements, including looking online for more information, recommending the product to someone else or considering purchasing a product. Those actions will be measured by MRI-Simmons’ Starch AdMeasure study.

If the benchmark is not met, which “will be measured in weeks, not months,” Meredith will place the ad again in another magazine, according to Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines.

We don’t expect every single advertiser to take us up on it,” he said. “This is to demonstrate there’s action being taken by our audiences.”

Meredith has offered a print sales guarantee for years—with over 200 campaigns—and has experimented with extending that before, including offering a video sales guarantee, which debuted at its NewFronts presentation in 2018.

While the publisher won’t be participating in the IAB’s NewFronts this year, executives are aware of advertisers’ desire to make sure their money is well spent, as COVID-19 continues to put a strain on marketing budgets, Olsen said.

It’s less about getting the deal of the century right now on pricing; it’s, ‘Does it work?'” Olsen told Adweek.

Other publishers, like The Wall Street Journal, have created new programs to convince advertisers that print is worth it. The Journal said it would run another print ad for free if it didn’t achieve a 70% recall rate.

Advertising forecasts for the rest of this year are grim, and print advertising is expected to see a 25% drop compared to last year, according to the most recent forecast from IPG Mediabrands-owned Magna Global.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.