What is Profile Advertising and are there any Benefits?

What is profile advertising
When faced today with yet another suggestion for one of our clients to ‘support’ an editorial piece and their loyal specifiers with profile advertising, it got me thinking…who really thinks that this is a good idea?

Does either the Specifier or the Building Product Manufacturer actually know what they are agreeing to here?

Firstly, let me just clarify what profile advertising actually is:

Magazines offer ‘free’ editorial to companies, usually for a business profile (hence the name I use for it). In the construction industry, especially with publications targeted at architects, this is often for editorial on a specific project.

The catch is – the client that is given the free space has to give the publishing house names and details of suppliers for their business or project. By exchanging this information, the publishing house will then contact the suppliers asking whether they’d like to pay for advertising to support their client.

So the editorial is not free at all, and by doing this, the publishing house has made a relatively easy way of making money, as the suppliers often feel obligated to contribute.

See an example email below of profile advertising…

[click to enlarge]


Ben Rumbelow, marketing manager at Glazing Vision, commented during a discussion on this type of advertising:

it’s easy to get caught out by these offers and feel you should support them’.

In the case of building product manufacturers, it’s usually one of their registered or approved contractors, or the project via an architect that is the focus of the ‘editorial’.  I can’t bear to even call it “editorial” as without the paid for support, the piece wouldn’t go ahead, as shown below…


So how do you know if what you’re agreeing to is a genuine opportunity?

You’ll be pleased to know that there is a really easy way; if you are being contacted by a sales person about an editorial opportunity then alarm bells should ring.

A tell-tale sign I’ve noticed over the years is that if you’re on the receiving end of the editorial approach, the media outlet will be quite relaxed about the topic to be covered. I’m sure Jan-Carlos at RIBAJ PIP or Tom Lane at Building is not relaxed about who decides their editorial content!

Is it worth doing?

As you can probably tell by now, my answer is usually no. It falls into our category of random acts of marketing. There may be instances in which it can support a relationship or project, but I’m yet to find one.

A contact at one of the leading construction publishing houses agrees, and comments:

it’s not the sort of thing we’d entertain; it would diminish the editorial integrity of our publications’.

My theory has always been that if we couldn’t afford to do it for every client/architect/contractor, then we shouldn’t do it for just one.

To reduce the pressure for client side marketers and to stop the sales person for the company (who got sucked in to the editorial in the first place) moaning at me, I declared a company policy to not do any profile advertising at all.

Then the decline is not personal just company policy…

What about supporting projects with advertising?

In the case of advertising to support project editorial, this may be beneficial depending on the media outlet.

There are many specification directories that sell space around featured projects; think about the audience and the use of the directory before you commit.

There are so many RIBA directories you could spend your whole advertising budget just supporting projects features in these!


However some of these directories may be suitable for your marketing mix; working closely with good industry titles such as AJ, Building and RIBAJ can give you the heads up on project studies being featured by editorial and it may be worth advertising in that issue.

Just make sure that:

1. The publication is already on your media list as a title that you want to appear in.
2. The audience is right for the product or project you’re promoting
3. You have decent artwork that serves a purpose with a decent call to action that fits with marketing objectives…

Publishing great content with the media

There are lots of great ways to work with the media, through both PR and Advertising.

If one of marketing’s objectives is to build the brand or position of the company as a thought leader, then content in the media is a good way to go.

Many publishing houses have great opportunities for paid for content; these features are highlighted as ‘Sponsored’ and can also include project profiles, competitions, CPD features or round table events.

We do recommend this sort of activity as part of client media plans, as long as it supports the business and marketing objectives.

One of many highlights in 2015 was a CPD Feature in Building generating 1100 contacts, all ready to go into the client’s lead nurturing programme.

A product competition in Grand Designs also made the most of paid for advertising space and gave our client over 3000 potential customers to build credibility and trust with.

Talk to us about making the most of your content or find out more on content marketing by downloading the ebook.

Suzanne Golder

About Suzanne Golder

Suzanne Golder is the content lead for Pauley Creative, responsible for driving the delivery of successful content strategy for our clients.

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