The commercial feasibility of advertising-subsidized publishing was first demonstrated by Cyrus and Louisa Knapp Curtis, a husband-and-wife duo who, in the late 19th century, turned the Ladies' Home Journal into the most widely read (and profitable) magazine in America. By shifting the source of publishing revenues from its readers to its advertisers, the Curtis Publishing Company—as it came to be known—planted the seed for the magazine model of the 20th century with an operating method that is still being used by consumer and trade publications today.
In the new economy, defined by dot-com fall-out, agencies and publishers have had to reconsider their marriage based on technology. For instance, a publisher without a definitive plan on digital ad acceptance is faced with the question of how to integrate multiple file formats into a single, cohesive workflow. And as the notion of the prepress shop disappears, the importance of file standards increases. In fact, many publishers admit defeat in soliciting ad formats from agencies that satisfy operational workflows, causing production departments to develop new standards.
At Red Herring, digital ad acceptance is outlined up front, specifying TIFF/IT-P1 as the preferred file format. The publisher also recommends that "all fonts, graphics, color information and traps must be embedded in the supplied digital files." Whereas other publications, such as Advance, a trade magazine for the medical management community, request digital ads be submitted via Adobe Acrobat PDF files and even native application formats—including Quark and PhotoShop—it proves that among many agencies and publishers, there exists no single course of action.
Getting on the same page
Linda Manes Goodwin, president of Manes Goodwin Associates, is a long-time proponent of standardization between publishing and advertising worlds. She warns that publishers should consider the following rules of thumb even before agencies are courted: create digital ad specifications, actively solicit digital ad materials and educate advertisers and agencies.