FREE FORM ADS (check one out just a couple of posts down from here) are becoming more common. And some advertisers seem to prefer them—because they see the impact their design (there’s that word again!) has on the page.
Most newsroom purists, of course, will gasp whenever they see one. At the LA Times recently, the news staff circulated a petition claiming a free form ad on page 1 had “caused incalculable damage to this instition.” Perhaps the damage is perceived more because the ad was dressed to look like a news story.
But free form ads that are clearly advertising: Are they a danger? Do they cross any ethical lines? Or are they just another opportunity for us to make a few bucks in a weak economy?
What are your thoughts? Take the poll below.
And, while you’re at it, please vote in the poll on newspaper contests: Are they worth it? Just a waste of time?
JUDY LYTLE, Graphics Department supervisor at the Ludington Dailly News (a client newspaper I redesigned in 2007), sends along this page with a free form ad.
Says Judy: “Nice job on the blog—saw your request for pages and wanted to share our first ‘free-form’ ad (or whatever people are calling them, there’s probably a name for it)…also wondering how your readers are dealing with handling these non-traditional ad spaces?
I built the ad to go across the top, down the right column and all the way across the bottom, and turned it over to editorial to fill…was kind of disappointed with the end result, since [the newsroom] threw a photo and all those rules on there, but it looks OK…my original spec just had two or three stories and no pics, so [the ad] really dominated the page.”
FROM ED: I really like the ad, Judy! It’s one of the better free form ads I’ve seen and it shows what can be done by a good designer. I wonder how the newsroom reacted to the concept—most newsroom purists would gag but these are different times in our business. The ad is fun to look at and I especially like the way it nudges into two of the stories (though I suspect there are purists hyperventilating as they read this). We can argue about the concept of free form ads from here to kingdom come, but I still think this is very execution.
What are your thoughts, folks? For it? Against it? (I feel another poll coming on!) Does it work? Not work? Does doing this make you gag? Suggestions?