Flipboard Kicks Off Its First Advertising Program With Condé Nast

Users who follow The New Yorker magazine through iPad social reader Flipboard will start noticing advertising as part of the mix. The ads, beginning with a campaign by American Express, are part of a deal with the magazine’s publisher, Condé Nast, which will be working with Flipboard on ads for Wired and Bon Appétit and other titles over the course of the year.

Flipboard’s new ad program is an outgrowth of the Flipboard Pages project, which highlights and converts magazine Twitter and Facebook feeds into specially-designed magazine-style pages. Condé Nast was among several top media companies, including Hearst Magazines, News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), ABC (NYSE: DIS) News, the BBC and others across 30 publications, to join Flipboard Pages when it launched in December. In an interview, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told paidContent that the company is currently in talks with all its Flipboard Pages partners about placing ads within their feeds on the iPad reader.

Lexus is the next marketer that will run ads on Condé Nast’s Flipboard posts; that’s set for October.

Mindful that users’ tolerance for advertising is generally pretty low, even for good-looking ads, Flipboard and Condé Nast will only activate a limited number of ad pages within specific content, said McCue and Josh Stinchcomb, VP digtial sales for Conde Nast Media Group. A simple tap on the magazine-style ad takes a reader to a brand’s website or Facebook page for additional information. McCue said he is not worried that Flipboard users will react negatively now that advertising is being attached to posts.

“In many cases, people often look to magazines for the advertising,” he said. “That’s not the case with web ads. It has a lot to do with the format of online ads. The fact that the ads are eating into the content whether it’s a skyscraper or a pop-up. With our ads, it will have a similar look and feel to what’s in a magazine. In a lot of ways, it will be regarded simply as additional content.”

McCue is so confident that Flipboard readers won’t be turned off by the ads, he does not anticipate ever offering a “premium” Flipboard that offers content with little or no advertising. “I think people recognize that the ads are a great way to keep content free, which is what users really value.”

Condé Nast and Flipboard will share revenues from the ads, but neither McCue nor Stinchcomb would specify what the split is.

The advertising is all full screen, noted Stinchcomb. In terms of the creative, some marketers may choose to use an existing print ad or develop something specially for Flipboard. For the most part, the advertising is designed to serve as an extension of what’s on the web and print. It’s also a way to connect the iPad app editions of Condé Nast’s titles to the web and the print versions, Stinchcomb said.

“We see the Flipboard ad program as an extra cross-marketing vehicle,” Stinchcomb said. “This is about being where our readers are and bringing our advertisers along with us. Flipboard’s advertising program represents a great chance to promote our paid digital edition apps. With one click, we can get users to subscribe to New Yorker edition and eventually, our other magazines.”