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.