Taste of Home revamps, sells first ad pages

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Reader's Digest Association (RDA) title Taste of Home is revamping its print product and Web site and selling ads for the first time.

The first ads in the 14-year-old food and recipe magazine appeared in the October/November issue. A sharper, less-cluttered design debuts in the December/January issue, and the corresponding Taste of Home Web site shows off a new design starting mid-December.

Taste of Home is the largest food magazine in the world in terms of paid circulation, so at this point the model is so well-developed I can't imagine how much bigger the print form of Taste of Home could possibly be,” said Suzanne Grimes, president of food and entertaining at RDA. “There have been a lot of changes at RDA, and the expectation is growth. One way to grow further is creating a new revenue stream.

Wal-Mart is the sole advertiser in the December/January issue — a result of careful selection on RDA's part, rather than disinterest from advertisers, Grimes points out.

“Since we have such a dialogue with the readership, we could develop a model that was right for the brand and right for the reader, one that makes sense as to why the reader comes to the magazine in first place. We're trying to give readers some value from the ad, whether it contains a coupon or shows a place to buy ingredients, or tools for kitchen. Everything is really well-aligned with our proposition.”

Kraft and SC Johnson ads will appear in February/March.

“It's such a great proposition for advertisers,” continued Grimes. “First of all, if you're looking to reach someone who will actually buy your product here you have people who truly are engaged with this brand, who truly do cook and will purchase related products and people who have never been exposed to advertising in this environment.”

Taste of Home has applied for membership to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and expects its first audit, wherein it guarantees a rate base of 3.1 million, next month.

With the new ad revenue, Taste of Home could afford to up the quality of its print and online offerings. The magazine now has higher quality photo spreads — a reader favorite, according to Grimes. The Web site has added more Web 2.0 and community capabilities.

This string of firsts for the magazine builds on a wider, RDA initiative to revamp products and increase revenue. Flagship magazine Reader's Digest just sold its first back cover ads to Dove. Reader's Digest also underwent a facelift and massive staffing changes in 2007, after a buyout by private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings.

Changes will continue in 2008 when Taste of Home spin-offs Light & Tasty, Simple & Delicious and Cooking for 2 start to integrate ads. The three titles will also apply to the ABC.

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