Ads Are In Your Face At Gannett Sites

A lot of time is spent in the online video ad biz trying to find the key that will make millions of users actually watch the ads.

Nonetheless, those tabs that ask if you want to “Skip Ad” and that X in the top right corner are familiar and welcome prompts. I use 'em.

So the Wall Street Journal’s CMO blog finds it newsworthy that Gannett Co. is pushing its new Gravity display ad opportunity, which Mike Shields explains are “ads that take over a person’s computer screen and shove a video ad–in many cases, a TV-spot–front and center.”

There’s nothing subtle about it.

That’s the way the original ad proposition went, back when.

Read a newspaper and page through the ads. Watch TV, and every 15 minutes or so, see the commercials.

Ads in newspapers and magazines, it seems to me, could be selling points for print—papers still count up the dollars you’ll save if you use every coupon stuffed into the Sunday edition and many fashion magazines try more to look like ads than the “native” other-way-around. 

Online, banner ads still have some solid footing.

But commercials that seem like commercials and interrupt, or delay, or move, what you’ve come to a Web site to do, can irritate a lot of people if I may define myself as “a lot of people.”

Shields refers to this new Gannett idea as "homepage-hijacking," a most unflattering phrase, but it seems Gannett is more of the opinion that it’s time to get down to business. No one is trying to fool you into thinking you’re not going to get advertising. So just sit there and take it for 30 seconds. 

“Instead of video ads in little boxes, we want to make the entire screen a TV set,” Steve Ahlberg, Gannett’s veep for revenue solutions told the WSJ. 

Ahlberg says when Gannett tested these ads with readers at its Indianapolis Star Website, “we got zero negative feedback.  We actually got a tremendous amount of positive feedback.”  (They call Indianapolis “Naptown,” I should note. Pretty unexciteable.)

I tried finding what I thought might be the Gravity ads on a few Gannett sites today, including USA Today. I didn’t see any.

I found other kinds of video ad intrusions—the worst being a pre-roll ad featuring a reggae singer crooning, “So nice, so nice” for a Caribbean vacation spot just before video from a story titled, "Teen Crushed By Fireplace in Napa Quake Is Recovering.” 

That ad placement sure didn’t seem to work, which made me start thinking maybe that’s what Gannett’s figuring out, too.  There’s no exceptionally good way to present advertising to people who don’t want to see it right that moment.

On the other hand: Grow up already. That’s the way the world works.

As Ahlberg notes, ads that engulf the entire screen are pretty unambiguously there, so the Gravity format also would end a lot of conversation about viewability. You can’t miss these.

Unless, of course, you decide to miss them entirely and go someplace else.     

pj@mediapost.com

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1 comment about "Ads Are In Your Face At Gannett Sites ".
  1. tim glomb from Wayin , August 26, 2014 at 1:46 p.m.
    I find the Mediapost ads just as annoying. I haven't clicked on Exponetial ads in the last year but they cover your great content constantly. :)