If Facebook, Digg and The New York Times had a drunken ménage à trois, their lovechild might look like True/Slant, a new ad-inside-journalism web model. The concept is simple: Journalists write; readers comment to push up articles and their own personal fame; and advertisers get to write their own pages, too. The site is heavy-up with skilled authors formerly of NYT, Financial Times and Rolling Stone, but it’s the ad integration that has Walt Mossberg buzzing.
Walt notes: “In a highly unusual move, the site plans to offer advertisers their own entire pages where they can run blogs and try to attract a network of followers. These will have the same design and features of the journalists’ pages, but will be labeled as ad content.” It’s actually brilliant integration — the ad content has the heft of the real articles, but the clear distinction — both in labeling and in authorship — keeps the gray shadiness of sponsored posts at bay. The site even gives reporters a cut of ad revenue, inspiring them to write strong authentic pieces that attract a loyal following and thus more ads.
We like it. Now if only someone would clean up the layout.
Jason Moriber at Wise Elephant points to a new prototype interface from The New York Times which lets you rapidly skim over news content. He writes:
“It might not be pretty, but it matches the online trend of users skimming through feeds, reading over posts, grabbing the nuggets they want/need … I often say ‘react to the behavior of your market, follow what they are doing, not what they are saying.’ This new interface from The New York Times appears to be on this path.”
The new NYT skimmer format is perhaps most intriguing because it ditches the banner ads that have been encroaching on more and more of the visible real estate on the NYT home page. (See Apple monstrous ad format from last Monday.) But there’s a trick — if you click on any of the article headlines at skimmer, you land at a real NYT inside web page complete with ads. And the ads are more contextually relevant, since NYT can serve them next to the content you want to read. All in all, a nice victory for both marketers and consumers — faster access to the news you want, smaller and less-obtrusive ad formats, and the potential for ads to offer you something relevant, thus driving up response rates. We say, please NYT, keep it live. Bookmark it here.