With so much talk about the new pay wall the New York Times introduced last week I'd like to turn your attention to a publication that has no pay wall, the paper of record for my own city, one I read regularly, the Los Angeles Times.
The image above is a screen capture of the Times (yes, New York, we call ours that too) home page, over the weekend. It had an impressive ad buy on display Sunday from cable channel Showtime. The ads nearly blanket the page -- from the innovative vertical banners running up each side of the main content window, to the aqua blue margins, to no fewer than three banner placements above the scroll -- this is an ad that's hard to miss. The creative seemed to give equal billing to shows Nurse Jackie and the United States of Tara (which I've always thought was a funny name, considering that its star is an Aussie, but anyway ...).
Because I'm a lazy blogger, I haven't done the legwork to know whether the L.A. Times has a pay wall slated for the future, but an ad like this one for Showtime sure appears to be a sign of life for ad revenue. Let's hope there's enough coming in to keep any plans for a subscription model at bay indefinitely.
The only thing I find a bit puzzling about this buy is the timing of it. It ran on Sunday, which strikes me as a particularly old-media time to run an ad. You buy an ad in the Sunday paper because it's the biggest circulation day. You want to be in the Sunday paper without a doubt. But why do an online buy that day? I've spent years running websites and have looked at a lot of analytics. For the great majority of sites, peak traffic hours mimic work habits. People browse when they are at work, and traffic is highest during work hours. For most of the sites I've run, Wednesday at 3pm has been traffics golden hour. Sunday is usually one of the worst days in terms of traffic.
Either way, good on you, L.A. Times, for giving your advertisers a reasonable amount of exposure without cutting into the content. And since you're basically the only game in town in this country's second largest city, let's hope this is enough to keep you afloat.