Newspapers And The Hulu Model

Wesley Donehue over at TechRepublican wonders what if newspapers explored the Hulu advertising model?

Let’s look at South Carolina as an example. The State’s John O’Connor and Gina Smith pumped out “must read” material for the nation during the Mark Sanford scandal. Unfortunately the only money they got from the increased readership was a hopeful increased click-through rate on the banner ads that polluted the page.

What if those banner ads weren’t there? What if, instead, a 30 second commercial popped up and you couldn’t move on to the story until you sat through the video? Sure, it’s a little annoying, just like on Hulu. But people will sit through 30 seconds of a commercial to get to solid content

Some news sites already do this, a splash coming up showing an advertisement with a small “click here to go to the article” link in the corner. It’d be interesting to see how that has impacted ad revenue compared to readership rates and whether this model works. But to date most of these ads have been standard flash advertisements and the opt through link at the top has made them not so mandatory.

The problem with forcing a 30 second or even 15 second commitment from a reader is a difference in how the medium is consumed. We are already used to commercials when watching television or video so three 30 second ads during a 30 minute Hulu broadcast doesn’t bother us.. Websites based on text content fall into a newspaper style of advertising in that it’s a matter of placement around the content, not interrupting the flow of it with something on a completely different level of interaction.

Could this use a change? Sure. But text is usually skimmed more than read and articles of 1200 words may only keep eyes on the site for an average of around 75 seconds. Tacking a 15 second hurdle on top of something before they’ve committed to it risks losing that reader. Interrupting their skimming after a few paragraphs with the same style of ad risks the same.

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