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This news media blog explores the nexus between the press, the public and technology with two missions. One, to engage citizens in an online conversation about the role of the news media in their lives, in the hope that they will use and critique the media more effectively. And secondly to explore how the press can remain relevant, essential and accountable to citizens and communities.

Mike Fancher is Editor at Large of The Seattle Times.

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April 25, 2008 3:55 PM

A "welcome ad"? I don't think so.

Posted by Mike Fancher

In their hunt for revenue, news sites have tried a variety of intrusive gimmicks, most of which really tick off readers. AdvertisingAge reported the New York Times this week "for the first time allowed a full-page ad to interrupt people trying to reach for their initial visits of the day -- before they could view even one headline."

AdAge quotes Todd Haskell, Times VP-digital sales and operations:

We have been doing full-page interstitials for years. This is just a different placement in the user session.

We collaborate with customers to provide ad units that help them meet their marketing needs, and clients have been asking for a "welcome ad" placement for some time.

Interstitial ads are the ones that creep around on a web page, covering up the other content. My edition of Webster's defines "interstitial" as "of, forming, or occurring in interstices," and "interstice" as "a small or narrow space between things or parts; crevice; chink; crack."

I guess this ad occurs in the space between me and the front page.

In earlier days, the New York Times moved farther and faster than just about any newspaper in allowing advertising to clutter its Web site, including the home page. Commercial messages often were hard to distinguish from news content. It has evolved to be much more orderly and in keeping with the newspaper's brand, although it still has ads that aren't clearly labeled and can be mistaken for news.

Newspapers won't survive without growing their online advertising franchise, but my hope is that they will conclude that an ad covering the entire front page is unwelcome.

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