It used to be that talk of product placement in magazines would elicit a scary backlash from church-state fundamentalists. Not so much anymore.

In a working group devoted to marketing and brand development today at the FOLIO: Publishing Summit, many seemed to think the issue has gotten beyond whether or not it’s a church-state violation—it’s not longer a question of do or don’t but more like when and how.

“I think it will come. It will have to,” said Kevin Hyson, executive vice president, CMO, of American Media.

“There may be a place for product placement,” said Hank Boye, publisher of Harvard Business Review and co-moderator of the working group, but only after careful examination so that the brand and editorial reputation are not compromised.

Jeff Pedone, director of e-mail marketing at ALM Media, asked the group if the church-state issue with product placement is an internal one. “Are you holding onto something that your audience isn’t holding onto anymore?”

Janet Ludwig, president of Allured Publishing and working group co-moderator, said a lot depends, of course, on the audience. “In b-to-b, you really have to protect your credibility. It’s our lifeline.” When a product appears in the midst of content, she said, “a reader needs to know if that’s been paid for."