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Advertising - two for one

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What does Sprint have in common with BMW? SAS Institute with Amazon.com? Nissan with Microsoft? Give up? The dissimilar pairs have recently appeared in the same ads in some popular magazines. One company uses the other as a case sample in the ad, and they both score brand recognition on one page. talk about killing two birds with one stone.

The concept is nothing new. I'm pretty confident I have seen it over the years. Perhaps I never paid attention to it, or maybe they weren't as prevalent as they are these days, or perhaps the companies running the ads weren't as renowned as the ones I have seen recently.

Since I wasn't able to find a term for this practice, I decided to call it covertising, as in cooperative advertising. I work for a publishing company, but I'm not intimately familiar with the industry practices. Perhaps the host company gets a kickback from the mentioned company. This would be akin to an ad within an ad, or a sponsorship arrangement. Or perhaps the money flows the other way. In that case the host company pays the mentioned company a certain amount for the privilege of using them as a success story in the ad. Or maybe it's a wash since both companies are already well-known, and they receive relatively equal exposure.

As far as I can tell, covertising is a great concept and it allows both parties achieve win/win. It's a symbiotic relationship that is more than the sum of its parts. By that I mean that each company receives more than half exposure, if not the same value as having an entire page dedicated to themselves. The support and counter-support value adds a positive dimension to the companies involved.

The potential losers in covertising are the publishers. While they might have been able to score two separate ads, they would generally charge the host company for one insertion. However, if more companies take up covertising, publishers could start demanding higher fees for these ads. But for now advertisers seem be enjoying the benefits of covertising - less cost (maybe) and more exposure.


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