you’re making it worse…

brick wall by joriel on flickr

The only nice part about banging your head against a brick wall is when you stop.

However, this article in AdWeek suggests that news brands would prefer to ignore such common sense.

Apparently, a number of high-profile news sites, including the WSJ and Reuters, have signed up to trial more intrusive advertising.

The article defines this new format as:

“a new initiative that plops commercials in front of users as they arrive at Web sites, blocking the content”

It goes on to note that:

“[Readers] will have the option to close the ads after 10 seconds.

After 10 seconds?

Who’s going to wait that long?

This is madness.

AdWeek’s sub-headline sums up the muddled thinking that seems to be dragging these brands under:

The moves are necessary because the current ad system on the Web does not work for content sites

Correct; the current system doesn’t work.

But this kind of approach is only going to make that system worse.

Part of the problem is that news brands seem to be getting some very dubious advice:

“It theoretically makes a lot of sense,” said Jason Klein, co-CEO of Special Ops. “It’s a similar type of user-interruption experience as a commercial in the middle of a TV show.”

Exactly which part ‘makes a lot of sense’?

News brands are struggling; the last thing they want to do is interrupt their readers and risk losing them.

Advertisers only go where they can find an audience.

If the new formats drive people away, they’re counterproductive; any gains in revenue per ad will be offset by a fall in total impressions.

But this line takes the biscuit:

“‘Our biggest challenge is we haven’t been able to agree on new types of advertising that’s [sic] valued by brand marketers,’ he said.”

May I suggest that this is not your biggest challenge?

Rather, your biggest challenge is to find a way to deliver the benefits your customers are looking for, in a way that generates profit for you.

I’ll reiterate my point from earlier in the week: news brands needs a radically new revenue model, not a butchered reworking of the old one.

Image courtesy of joriel on flickr [please let me know if you'd like me to remove this image]
Thanks to @emarketer for the AdWeek link

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2 Responses to “you’re making it worse…”


  1. 1 John Barton October 11, 2009 at 04:32

    Thanks for the post. What better way to make people hate you than by obstructing access to information they want? These tactics get in the way of delivering the value of the content and encourage people to use different channels. It seems like a very desperate posture.

    Even worse, it assumes that people will continue to use the news channel without recognizing all the choices people have. It’s arrogant and authoritative at worst and naive at best.

    Maybe news websites should really focus on the “experience.” Use fewer ads but make them more relevant. Focus the coverage and concentrate on delivering excellent information, create a differentiation, appeal to a specific audience and stop cutting and pasting from AP. If people feel good/respected/involved by using the website and if the content is unique and high quality, they will visit it frequently and the advertising on that site will have impact.


  1. 1 newspapers are dead; long live news « eskimon Trackback on August 7, 2009 at 14:38

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