The document's very existence signals the growing importance of
native advertising at Conde Nast, where its high-gloss magazines
are seeking to grow their digital readers and advertisers to help
offset diminishing print revenues.
Several Conde Nast titles have adopted these tactics
individually, among them The New Yorker and Architectural Digest. Wired, which has its
own division selling and sometimes producing these ads for brands,
works with Conde Nast Media Group on the production of their ads.
And Conde Nast recently introduced its first corporate-wide native
ad program, with ads for Pantene residing among the editorial
content on the websites of magazines Self, Glamour and Lucky as well as on
The document also offers a clue about what Mr. Wallace, who
through a spokesman declined Ad Age's interview request, has been
up to recently. After serving as editor of Conde Nast Traveler, Mr.
Wallace was in 2005 named editorial director, charged with
overseeing the editorial direction of the company's magazines,
according to the Conde Nast website. But some inside the company
believe Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour moved onto his turf last
year when she was named to the additional post of Conde Nast
artistic director. Conde said then that Ms. Wintour would "curate
and cultivate the creative vision for the Company, working with the
extraordinary editorial talent at Conde Nast to shape its artistic
inspiration and innovation across all platforms."
Ms. Wintour has since helped engineer redesigns and staff
changes at Lucky, Conde Nast Traveler and Self magazines, as well
as worked with editors at Glamour on their editorial product.
"I don't know if anyone here can really define their roles," a
Conde Nast publisher said.
A spokesman for Conde Nast declined to comment on Mr. Wallace's
A spokeswoman for Ms. Wintour did not respond to Ad Age's
request for comment by press time.
Meredith, publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, is finalizing
"a best practices document" around native advertising, a spokesman
for the company said in an email. Other magazine publishers have
stayed away from ratifying documents to codify native ad
"My personal preference is to not try to legislate this but
rather keep it as something that we would handle on a case by case
basis," said Norm Pearlstine, chief content officer at Time Inc.,
publisher of People and Sports Illustrated.
A Hearst spokeswoman said the publisher of Cosmopolitan and Esquire "sticks with one overarching
principle: transparency, and all 'native' content is clearly
labeled as such."
A Conde Nast staffer described the company's document as "an
evolving set of practices" that gives publishers and digital ad
sellers a quick reference guide on what they can and can't offer
brands. "It simplifies the sales process," the staffer said.
"I think it's a very wise idea," said Wenda Harris Millard,
president and COO at MediaLink. "If you don't protect your readers
and viewers you won't have the ad dollars you need."
But Conde Nast publishers are concerned it might curb their
flexibility. "It doesn't reflect the realities of what's happening
in the business," said a Conde Nast publisher. "It's very
A Conde Nast spokesman said the magazine publisher has "always
had standards and practices on many topics which continue to serve
the company, its clients and consumers well."
"This is no different," he added, declining to comment
Brent Poer, president at digital agency LiquidThread, welcomed a set of rules that
helps publishers better define the practice of native advertising.
"It can't just be the Wild West with ranges of inconsistences," he
said. "Then it just becomes an internal version of the Hunger Games
-- who will change more to win the dollars that are placed in the