Fine Cooking Uses CMR to Show Advertisers the True Size of Its Enthusiast Brand


As a trusted source of information and inspiration on the house and home, Taunton Press' mission is to connect enthusiasts with compelling and trusted information services and products that help them fulfill their aspirations. Taunton strives to create an environment that is accessible and credible for their readers and advertisers for all the brands in its portfolio, including Fine Cooking.


With a strong enthusiast brand extending to several special interest publications, apps, e-newsletters, websites and social media outlets, Fine Cooking needed a way to demonstrate to agency partners the depth of its many brand extensions. Ideally that information would be audited to support Taunton's strong belief in transparency and credibility.


In February 2011, Steve Giannetti, Taunton's senior vice president of advertising, was shown a prototype of the magazine CMR and immediately made an important connection, "A lot of publishers disseminate information in presentations and sales material but we think it is important to have a third party confirming that it is true. I call it 'truth in advertising.' We wanted to be transparent about our brand and the CMR really gave us the platform to do that."


In April 2012Fine Cooking became the second consumer magazine to publish a Consolidated Media Report and the first epicurean magazine to show an audited brand universe of 1.7 million. Its first CMR details the circulation ofFine Cooking magazine and several special interest publications, unique visitors for, net distribution for several weekly e-newsletters, downloads for eight apps and followers on two popular social media outlets.

Finecooking 2012_quote

"As a magazine in this crowded field of food and cooking, both for advertising and consumer choice, we felt it was important to highlight and bring to light the growth of Fine Cooking as a multimedia franchise," explained Giannetti. "From an advertising standpoint, we want to ensure our clients were provided with audited and tangible information that articulates the true size of our brand. And when they looked at all the different extensions the brand encompassed, they were able to see the reach of Fine Cooking. When it comes to Fine Cooking, our goal was to underscore the many ways we engage with our audience and all the touchpoints we offer consumers and advertisers. We thought it was important to show the full brand franchise universe to advertisers. And because it is audited, there's information that can be trusted and used in evaluating our strength."

With a reach as extensive as Fine Cooking’s, one of the first challenges was simply deciding which elements to include on the report. Their approach was simple: choose the strongest assets in the franchise. One of those assets is Fine Cooking’s extensive collection of special interest publications.

"The CMR helps us bring our SIPs to the forefront as a true media extension, one that has been third-party audited," said Giannetti. "We sell close to 100,000 copies of an SIP off the newsstand and many agencies weren't able to make a buy because it wasn't audited. That is a big challenge we needed to overcome because it is a large part of our franchise, especially when are putting out nine or 10 of these a year."

The Fine Cooking report doesn't exclusively focus on print circulation. Giannetti and his team also chose several digital elements, including the brand's presence on Facebook and Twitter, a move that some may see as trendy but Giannetti says is purposeful.

"You can't develop a social media strategy just for advertising," he emphasized. "You have to develop a strategy that is right for your consumer so that it can get to a critical mass and then the advertiser can inject themselves into the dialogue between the consumer and the brand. Our strategy is to build it for the consumer and the platform for advertising will be there. We want advertisers to know we have it and that's why we put it on the CMR."

Another important digital element of the Fine Cooking franchise is its iPhone and iPad apps. Giannetti believes they are just beginning to explore the power of this untapped market and he is anxious to share Fine Cooking’s early learnings with their partners.

"We want to make sure when we get into the tablet edition market that we do it the right way. Right now our utility apps have been an extremely successful brand extension for us. We want to create an app that's not only useful and beneficial to the consumer but we want to publish it at the time that it is going to be the most useful. The two best examples were the Thanksgiving and Christmas menu making apps. It is going to continue to be a big focus of ours, and as we grow these numbers, each CMR report will reflect our growth."

Now that the work of creating the CMR is done, Giannetti and his sales staff are planning an extensive roadshow with advertisers and other industry stakeholders to socialize the report and gather feedback.

"Our sales staff has been eagerly awaiting the final document so they know what they can take out," said Giannetti. "We want to be looked at as a multi-dimensional brand. I know a lot of people say that, I know a lot of brands say that, but it is extremely important for an enthusiast brand to show its full footprint."

Even though his first CMR just hit the market, Giannetti is already thinking about the next statement and how he's going to evolve the report to ensure it reflects Fine Cooking’s diverse brand reach across all channels.

"For the next CMR there may be a whole new category that we aren't even talking about," he said. “If we're going to focus on it, we're going to put it on the statement to increase the engagement with our consumers and advertisers. So, who knows what the next one will say?"

Giannetti shared a final piece of advice for his fellow publishers and a plea for buyers: "Be transparent with your clients and it will only be beneficial for you. But we want agencies to be transparent with us as well about what they're really looking for and why they're looking for it. And I think if you do that, you'll create a document that will grow and really become a great snapshot of your franchise and how advertisers can take advantage of it."

For More Information
If you are interested in multimedia reporting options for your publication, please contact your U.S. or Canadian magazine marketing manager. More information is also available on AAM's website.