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Issue for May 2016

Cross-device Portability Demands, Part III

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 11:07 AM

Selling ads in a world where space has lost its usual meaning, step 1.

By William Dunkerley

"Online ad sales teams are not selling responsive ad packages. Online advertisers don't even know how to spell responsive," is how one observer put it.

The advent of cross-device portability has presented publishers with a number of challenges. In Part I we discussed the emergent consumer demand for cross-device portability in accessing a publication's content. Part II dealt with making content fit and serving reader needs no matter what device is used. We discussed the concept of responsive Web design.

Now we turn our attention to ads. If the above quote has merit and advertisers don't really understand responsive design, then the job of selling ads for a responsive publication will have an added complexity.

Some publishers employing responsive design have simply carried over the standard digital formats that have been in use all along. Here's an illustration of standardized digital formats.


Standard digital ad formats.

Staying with well-known ad formats obviates the need for advertisers to understand anything about responsive design. It is perhaps the path of least resistance.

But shoehorning in old-style digital ads has some downsides. Here's an example from Folio:, a publication that has been at the forefront of adopting responsive design. Note the Wright's Media banner at the top of the page.


Full screen view.

When we narrowed the browser window, the editorial content nicely and responsively reformatted itself. But the ad didn't. See here:


Content responded but the ad didn't.

The result makes the Wright's Media ad virtually useless.

That's why perpetuating the old standard sizes isn't a good idea. Note that the package of formats shown above includes pop-up sizes. Additionally, Web readers may encounter auto-start video and audio advertising, and various hover-initiated forms of advertising.

Together these techniques constitute digital formats that really seem to annoy readers. That's led to a great consumer demand for pop-up blockers, which in turn has led advertisers to employ means to circumvent pop-up blockers.

Where will this end? We have some historical examples. At one time telemarketing was viewed as an up-and-coming way for a seller to reach out to prospective customers. But in the absence of an effective industry response to abuse, telemarketing proliferated to a scale that made consumers irate. They began practicing call screening. Ultimately laws were established that lawmakers claimed would solve the problem. (The laws didn't solve much, but that's another story.) Email advertising is another example. It became so annoying that a spam-blocking industry was spawned, and (ineffectual) laws were put into place too.

I've never seen any evidence that a good way to gain the favor of prospective consumers is to annoy them. Yet advertisers have bungled their way through one annoying scheme after another.

And the banner ads? They're not so annoying, but they don't work well. They don't produce good results. That's why so many advertisers have hung on to print media for as long as they have. Print ads are less annoying, and they embody advertising techniques that produce better results. I can't imagine that any experienced advertiser or marketer invented and promoted the banner ad. It looks to me more like something that came out of the world of programming and coding. It was something that in the early days of HTML was practical and easy to do.

So where does that leave us in selling ads in a responsive Web design publication today?

I think what we have now is an opportunity to change course, cut out the annoying and intrusive forms of advertising, and give advertisers and our audiences a better deal.

In a future issue we'll explore what that better deal might be.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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Could Digital Fatigue Revitalize Newspapers?

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 10:52 AM

In the news: Are readers burning out on technology? Could print newspapers experience a resurgence in this age of nostalgia?

In a recent EditorandPublisher.com piece, Nu Yang explores the idea that "digital fatigue" may provide the boost the print newspaper industry sorely needs. She writes, "With the recent rise of ad-blockers, it shows audiences are unhappy with their digital experiences, and as digital fatigue sets in among consumers, the newspaper industry -- and print -- is poised for a revival."

Yang homes in on the rising popularity of ad blocker software (which resulted in a $22 billion ad revenue loss last year) as evidence that readers may be tiring of digital media. With so many other media formats cashing in on nostalgia -- in the form of "movie reboots, TV show revivals, and reunion tours" - she wonders if it's the newspaper industry's turn to go back to its roots. Read her discussion here.

Also Notable

ROI for Facebook Marketing

"Facebook is still king for marketers," writes Caysey Welton in a recent Foliomag.com headline. There's been a lot of hype recently about the soaring popularity of rival social networks Instagram and Snapchat, but according to a socialfresh study entitled "The Future of Social Media," a whopping 96 percent of marketers get the best ROI from Facebook. Welton shares other findings from the study, including what percentage of respondents advertised monthly on the following sites: Facebook 61%, Twitter 32%, Instagram 30%, and Snapchat 11%. Read more here.

Do Publishers Trust Facebook?

Elsewhere on Foliomag.com, Greg Dool discusses the shaky trust between publishers and Facebook. Although Facebook remains an important, if not the most important, social marketing tool for publishers, publishers remain concerned about "ad revenue share and the ceded control over publishing platforms, among other things." Dool discusses the topic in light of MPA's recent IMAG conference in San Francisco. Read more here.

Augmented Reality for Print Magazines

Print magazine publishers have found some pretty innovative ways to stay relevant in this digital age. Earlier this month, The New Yorker brought a rather simple illustrated cover to life using its Uncovr app. Using their smartphones, readers can see the cover in 3D. Read more here.

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