With the magazine business suffering almost as badly as the newspaper industry, it’s probably a good time for titles to experiment with ad sales a little. Since last month, Sports Illustrated has been partnering with eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) on the creation of an online auction for print and digital ad sales. The Time Inc. mag is using the SI Marketplace to handle unsold ad space both in the magazine and online, as well as special editions, geographic and demo targeted offerings. Mark Ford, president of the Sports Illustrated Group, tells AdAge they also hope to use the online auction to attract advertisers “that we just physically can’t get to.”
In particular, Ford thinks the online marketplace could be especially helpful in selling ads for special editions of the magazine. Ford: “We used to send e-mails out to the sales reps in the Boston area saying, ‘Look we’re having a commemorative and you’ve got two days to sell into that. That’s not an efficient use of their time. Now, through e-mail blasts, we can say, ‘Here’s a great offering.'” That said, Ford adds that the auction won’t eliminate the human element when it comes time to closing the deal.