Ads That Provide Value To Readers, Provide Value To Publishers

Brian Stelter of The New York Times looked at a new report from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. The intent of the report is to help newspapers, magazines and television stations better compete in the online marketplace.

The report’s authors diagnose problems for digital media. Perhaps chief among them is that advertising on the Web tends to have less value for the consumer than advertising in other formats.

“If you ever watch somebody reading a copy of Vanity Fair, they spend as much time looking at the ads as they spend looking at the content,” Bill Grueskin, the academic dean for the journalism school and a co-author of the report, said. “Because the ads are actually useful for readers.” (Ads having value on their own, he added, is “something that we as journalists have a hard time getting our heads around.”)

That last bit is interesting to me. It’s an admission that the fuel that drives journalism–namely, ad revenue–is seen by the content producers as a necessary evil, at best. What ever happened to the idea that a publisher needs to carefully prepare and protect all their pages?

When publishers stop seeing ads as a necessary evil, and instead see ads as another valuable content stream for readers, the score is changed. Yes, that might mean that a publisher needs to take a more aggressive stand against shitty ads. What’s wrong with that?

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Great point. Publishers who actively embrace advertising will usually have better, and more innovative, executions showing up on their sites as well.

  2. To many editors and publishers, journalism is a pursuit. Or it was at one time. Advertising simply does not fall under that category for them. It is a means to an end.

    And besides, even bad ads supply that means.