The July issue of the British Philatelic Bulletin arrived early this month. (Subscription information here.) As I usually do, I flipped through the issue, reading some short bits and noting longer articles that I would read later. When I got to the inside back cover, I looked at the nice items being offered by Corbitts, and then I put the issue aside.
It wasn't until a few hours later that a thought popped into my head: "Corbitts ad? In the Philatelic Bulletin? Huh?" I thought this was the first time that the Bulletin had accepted a paid advertisement. I apparently was wrong.
I looked back through the prior 12 issues. The back cover of the June issue is an ad for The Philatelic Congress of Great Britain to be held in August. The April issue contains a full page ad for London 2015, and the February issue contains an ad for Stampex on the inside back cover.
I didn't notice that these were ads because they promoted stamp shows, and this seemed a natural thing for the Bulletin. Also, there had been previous promotions for stamp shows, such as the Autumn Stampex ad on the back cover of the August 2014 issue. This ad, however, mostly promoted the stamps that were to be issued at the show and ended with, "We look forward to seeing you there..." It is apparently a Royal Mail promotion.
The newer stamp show ads say nothing about Royal Mail's stamp issues or other products, and so I believe they were paid for. The Corbitts ad was obviously paid for.
This is not surprising. If I recall correctly, a recent Bulletin survey asked its readers if they were willing to pay more for the Bulletin. My guess is that the answer was no, and so Royal Mail decided to look elsewhere for additional revenue to cover the cost of the Bulletin.
I think this is a reasonable approach by Royal Mail. So far there has only been one page with an ad in each of the issues I mentioned. If Royal Mail does not expand the ads beyond this one page, and assuming the advertisers have no influence on the rest of the magazine, then I'm happy to see the Bulletin continue without having to pay more.