Startup E-mail Publisher Serves up Savvy Audience for Food Marketers

Advertising was an important consideration from the beginning as startup e-mail publication Tasting Table was developed. Today, after less than a year in operation, the daily food and drink newsletter is building its sales team and crafting new unique opportunities for advertisers.

Tasting Table CEO Geoff Bartakovics thought about ad offerings “from day one,” he told ClickZ News. “We are highly, highly targeted and we work with advertisers to make sure we are engaging the reader in a way that is meaningful to them,” he said. Spirits brands including Absolut Mango and Wines of Rioja have run campaigns with the publication, and its first major CPG brand is expected to start advertising in the next few months.

A display ad seen in a recent e-mail touted Belvedere Black Raspberry Vodka with a tongue-in-cheek inquiry: “Are you curious about maceration?” Referring to a process typically associated with wine-making, the ad links to

Though the campaign has an obvious sexual connotation, chances are Tasting Table subscribers already know what maceration is. “Ninety percent-plus readers know what mixology is,” said Bartakovics, adding that many purchase a case of wine or more per month, according to a company survey of its readers. Quantcast numbers show 57 percent of visitors to the Tasting Table site are women, 73 percent of visitors are college educated, and 35 percent earn $100,000 or more.

The weekday e-mail provides a short take on a new culinary or beverage-related item, from street food and restaurant reviews to recipes and Sommelier profiles. Bartakovics stresses the publication’s editorial focus, noting about 20 writers from major food publications are on board; however, there are no bylines. Recipients of the New York-centric edition were told recently of Jacques Torres’s new ice cream haven in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Another about a small taco joint on Manhattan’s West Side praised “The meat–especially the carnitas, cecina (chewy bits of salted beef) and crunchy, hacked-up pig’s ear” as “invariably tasty.”

The firm’s three ad sales execs have focused on “low hanging fruit” thus far, mainly “premier spirits brands,” according to Bartakovics. In addition to Absolut Mango and Wines of Rioja, Wines of Germany has advertised. Most major wine region promoters have contacted Tasting Table about advertising, he said. Subscribers must confirm that they are over the age of 21 before registering to receive the newsletter. As for non-endemic advertisers, the sales team has done less outreach, though they have pursued some large auto brand advertisers.

The young firm is planning its first multi-sponsor event to showcase advertisers’ food and drink fare. And, as it ramps up sales efforts, it expects to hire 2 additional ad sales execs in LA and Chicago in the next six months.

The company offers display advertising and “partner listings,” which are brief advertorial messages marked as advertising and accompanied by small images. And, like most other e-mail publishers, Tasting Table also sends e-mail messages on behalf of sponsors; those “partner tips” are sent once per week and are crafted in conjunction with the sponsor.

More unique offerings are in the works. Readers will soon be able to add restaurants, cocktail recipes, or other items to a “To-do” list stored on the Tasting Table site. The company plans to sell sponsorships that will appear as line items in those lists. For instance, a to-do list including various drink recipes might feature a sponsored cocktail recipe.

“It’s an innovative way to get products�¢ï¿½�¦onto the eating and drinking to-do lists for our readers,” said Bartakovics. A mobile app for the lists — anticipated by the end of summer — will be sponsored.

Among the best-known daily e-mails focused on individual products and brands is Comcast-owned DailyCandy, a favorite for fashion addicts. The publication has just teamed with Target, which will include product selections and articles from DailyCandy in the new Red Hot Shop section of its Web site. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the partnership is part of Target’s advertising campaign on DailyCandy.

Surely the relationship could boost DailyCandy’s brand recognition, too. Tasting Table, just launched in October 2008, has only recently begun its own marketing efforts. The company has tried display advertising, but found better results from Facebook ads and dedicated e-mails associated with other branded publications.

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