By: Ken Liebeskind

Wave Goodbye To The Banner Group

There may be a dot-com turndown, but newspaper Web sites are fighting
back, developing a wealth of online ad formats to win new business.
“The 468-by-60[-pixel] banner is fading in effectiveness – no one
wants them anymore,” says Jim Nail, an analyst at Forrester Research.
“As the easy dot-com money goes away, they have to create something
advertisers want.”

Major newspaper sites are beginning to launch their own formats,
instead of relying on industry standards. “We can deliver more
sophistication into the ad unit,” says Dave Beaupre, director of Internet
sales at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

“There’s a great deal of experimentation going on “to find new revenue
formulas,” says Randy Bennett, vice president of electronic media at the
Newspaper Association of America. “They’re looking beyond traditional
banners to create formats that might be more attractive and generate
additional click-through rates. They’ve clearly been very aggressive.”

Christine Cook, vice president/international at New York Times Digital
(NYTD), which runs The New York Times on the Web, says that two ad
positions introduced last year give advertisers prominent positions on the
site. One, called a “peninsula,” consists of three individual ads linked on
the top, bottom, and right sides of a page. The ads surround related
content, such as that used by the South Africa Tourism Board last month
on the Times site’s travel page. The other, called a right-angle banner, is
a one-piece unit with elements on the top and right sides of a page that
are connected.

NYTD charges premiums for the new units. Advertisers pay the going
rate for banners with an additional charge for the extra space. It is similar
to print advertisers’ paying premiums for spreads or bleeds, Cook says., which for years has run “beyond the banner” media ads
in which cars and other animated sponsor figures move across the home
page, introduced a new ad format in the fourth quarter. Product-
placement ads – small depictions of products that when clicked
bring readers to the shopping page – have
boosted page views and consumer purchases, says Lorraine Ross, vice
president of sales. “When we put products in front of users, there’s a
greater response for impulse buys.”

The product-placement ads are smaller than banner ads, 75-by-75
pixels. They are square boxes with product pictures inside, with three
product-placement ads from different advertisers running in a column.

They were launched last November and run every day throughout the
site, Ross says. Among the 50 advertisers that have used them are J.C.
Penney Co. Inc., Golf, and Sometimes
they offer specials available only to readers, such as
J.C. Penney’s $10 discount offer last Christmas season.

“We work with retailers to use product-placement ads to push hot
products,” Ross says. “They move the needle quite a bit in terms of

The latest innovation of, The Boston Globe’s Web
site, is the “Beltway,” a series of small ads resembling a belt that appear
on the center of the home page. There are three ad positions within the
belt that stretch across the page. “It allows key advertisers to have huge
visibility on the home page,” says Donna Rice, director of sales. Virgin
Atlantic Airlines has been a recent advertiser there.

The Beltway position lowers the cost per thousand (cpm) rate for
advertisers because there are so many views of the home page, 10
million to 14 million a month, Rice says. Advertisers thus get more views
for the price they pay, which provides “lower cost per acquisition,” she
says.’s other innovation is breaking up the “skyscraper,” the large
vertical ad that runs on the side of a page, into five individual ad units for
different sponsors. The skyscraper, a relatively new format that a few
newspaper sites are using, was divided for holiday gift guides at
Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day, with five sponsors
each time. Each ad on the skyscraper is clickable, taking the reader to
that sponsor’s Web site.

Besides devising new formats, has introduced
fixed-position advertising, which places a sponsor’s ad in a fixed place on
a long-term basis. Montgomery County (Md.) Liquor Wine bought the first
fixed position. Its ad will appear at the bottom left of’s food page for a full year, according to Beaupre.
The ad can be clicked to take readers to a sponsor’s page that created for store locations, coupons, and more.

The New York Times on the Web has introduced “anchor tenancy,”
which also gives advertisers a fixed space on a long-term basis. Major
advertisers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Sony, have bought the
position for a month to a year, Cook says.

Fixed-position advertising goes against the Internet norm, which is
“rotating banners randomly delivered through an ad server,” Cook says.
Log on to a Web site and you never know what banner you’ll see, but
fixed-position ads and anchor tenancy are changing that, giving
advertisers ways to secure space online, much as they do in print.

The new formats are being created because newspapers need to
provide alternatives to banners. Cook says advertisers want something
unique so “we make recommendations as to how they can achieve their

Ken Liebeskind is a free-lancer for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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