Shadow Ads Next Anti-Ad Skipping Strategy
We're ashamed to admit we were actually a proponent of this sort of advertising - though on websites - way back in 1996. We're talking about shadow ads. Shadow ads are lightly visible images imprinted, or watermarked, on editorial pages of newspapers. While some papers have run the unit for quite some time, mostly over stock quote pages and movie listing, insert giant Valassis caused heightened interest recently when it contacted several newspapers to discuss the ad unit and explore the level of its acceptance among publishers. While publishers debate acceptance, the bigger question raised by this ad unit is the potential damage forced ad viewing will have on editorial credibility and how any change in that credibility will change viewership or readership.
Personally, we'd throw the Boston Globe back in the face of the delivery guy if they chose to implement shadow ads but we're a bit more sensitive to this stuff than the average person. While it's understandable marketers explore new channels through which to reach people who have tuned out of traditional channels in droves, the current meme of intertwining advertising with content a la product placement, superimposed ads, shadow ads, fast forward ads, and the like has yet to be fully explored but feels, increasingly like an impending train wreck.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Managing Editor George Stanley, wants nothing to do with the shadow ads. Commenting to the Associated Press about the topic, Stanley said, "Readers might conclude that it's sponsored news. ... There's no reason to compromise the integrity of the newshole to squeeze a few more pennies out. If we stop serving our readers, we will lose our business." Nuff said.