Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gawker's "Accidental" Ads Return

Last Monday, Gabriel Snyder, managing editor of Gawker, offered "an apology and explanation" for an ad takeover of Gawker's skybox—the top section usually reserved for featured stories. "It's a glitch," he wrote, though later suggested a lack of creativity was really the issue. "If an advertiser wants to use the "look" of our skybox, they should also take some time to (ahem, use our crack creative services team to) write their own headlines."

Snyder thought the ads were "confusing" and "bizarre," and blamed it all on Gawker publisher Nick Denton, "who approves ads like these." "The glitch is being fixed," Synder assured his readers, "and I apologize for any confusion or unnecessary distraction this may have caused."

Apparently the problem has been fixed, with another check for services rendered to the ad team. You can see the new ads in the image at right, and in the screencast below where the page was refreshed twice to allow a fuller appreciation.

The ads could be easily mistaken for content (I did briefly,) and literally "blur the line" as they appear and then blend into and out of the content. And yes, they are still just as confusing and bizarre as last time. But it was Snyder's apology for them, which contained multiple explanations, that was truly bizarre and confusing. Remarking on the ads as an aberration, instead of what logic dictates is in fact a purposeful strategy, seems somewhat insulting to his readers. I'm not sure anyone reading Gawker is surprised by ads that blur the line between content and advertising. Certainly no one reading Gawker, who is well known for blurring those lines, would consider it an aberration. Apologizing for it seems odd, requiring you to accept that the Managing Editor of Gawker believes the purposeful blurring of advertising and editorial content is not ok, in fact deserves an apology, unless the ad buyer uses Gawker's inhouse creative services team?
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