Well, now. That IS unique!

Yesterday, we took a quick glance at the transformation of the Anchorage Daily News into the Alaska Dispatch News.

Today, a tipster sends me a photo of a page-one sticker ad from that same paper last week, advancing the big changes.

The sticker promises something “unique” for readers. And, if you look closely, you’ll find something that’s quite unique indeed.


Thanks to my anonymous tipster.

If it LOOKS like a sticker ad but is NOT a sticker ad, is it still just as obnoxious?

You’ve seen those lovely sticker ads, of course.

But have you seen fake sticker ads? They are designed to look like sticker ads, but they’re actually printed directly on the page.


That ran yesterday afront the Herald of Ottawa, Kansas, circulation 3,891.

I’m sure these have been out there a while — this is, in fact, the second one I’ve ever seen. The first was last August on page one of the Saratogian of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


Average daily circulation for the Saratogian is 6,812.

Thanks to my anonymous tipster for the photo.

One of the curses of modern newspapers: Sticker ads

There are a number of reasons I dislike those sticker ads that occasionally appear on page one.

Editors go to a lot of trouble of designing a front page that will cause readers to pick up the paper from a rack at a convenience store and, perhaps, even buy it.

But then we go and cover part of that front page up with a sticker ad:


That kind of defeats the purpose of putting that nice, big picture atop the Pensacola, Fla., News Journal, just last month, doesn’t it?

Yes, I know newspapers make money off the sticker ads. But we lose potential sales, too. If we’re not losing potential sales, then why do we go to so much trouble to design the skyboxes in the first place? Either skyboxes sell papers or they don’t.

Unless you were living under a rock yesterday, you probably saw this horrendous front-page sticker ad juxtaposition from Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News, posted yesterday by Jim Romenesko. It’s perhaps the worst example yet of a sticker ad causing an awkward juxtaposition with editorial matter.

This one — from the Courier-Times-Telegraph of Tyler, Texas, two years ago — shows what can happen to a headline if a sticker ad is carelessly placed on page one, obscuring part of your headline.

For bonus points, note what the sticker is advertising.

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. PDT

And here’s yet another, from a while back:


We remember“/”Here’s a deal you won’t forget.” Sigh…

Thanks to Joshua O’Connell for the photo.

A couple of years ago, Roy Greenslade — the media blogger for the U.K.’s Guardian — wrote about these kinds of juxtapositions:

The truth is that such clashes are noticed more by journalists than readers. We tend to be overly sensitive about such things.

I disagreed strongly. When an awkward juxtaposition slips into print or onto a web site — yes, it’s the media bloggers who discuss it.

But readers most definitely notice juxtapositions. Readers take screen snapshots and cellphone camera pictures and they post them to Fark, Reddit, Facebook, the Fail Blog. All over the place.

In April 2012, the New York Daily News found a sticker ad juxtaposed with a cheesecake-type photo plugging the big sex scandal of the day.


One or the other would have been fine. But this particular ad combined with that particular photo? Unfortunate for the Daily News. And amusing for the rest of us.

In 2011, the Daily Iowan the student paper at the University of Iowa in Iowa City — was distributed with a sticker ad atop a story about legalizing marijuana.

But check out the headline on the sticker.

For what it’s worth, the advertiser was touting financial services. Not weed. But still: Hardly effective for either the storytelling or the advertising.

Last August, we saw a new type of sticker ad: One in which the sticker is actually a fake sticker. This sticker ad was actually printed on page one of the Saratogian of New York.


I’ve not seen any more like that since then. Thankfully.

The other thing that readers consistently say they hate are spadeas — especially when they wrap around page one. I dislike them because, again, they cover up carefully-thought-out editorial matter and design.

That goes double when a paper has both a spadea and a sticker ad.


And on a big news day, to boot!

That’s the print equivalent of a pop-up internet ad that just won’t go away.

Find many, many more amusing advertising juxtapositions here.

For your consideration…

In case you didn’t see this yesterday, check out the ad stripped across the bottom of the front page of yesterday’s Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.


It was a mistake, said Howard Greenberg, publisher of the Sun Sentinel. He told Jim Romenesko:

The ad was supposed to be in sports, where it normally runs. Erectile dysfunction is not a new revenue source for us [on page one]. It was an honest, embarrassing mistake.

Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon asked Greenberg what kind of reaction he got from readers, Greenberg responded:

I have gotten zero.

Mistake or not; reader reaction or not: Folks were quick to jump all over it yesterday. Alt-weekly Broward/Palm Beach New Times wrote:

Sun Sentinel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper, wants to give you wood.

…Now, first and foremost, YES, this is the pot calling the kettle black. You flip through New Times, you’ll find ad for just about every strip club and transsexual Asian massage service in town. But at least we keep that stuff in the back of the paper.

Tina Nguyen of Mediaite wrote:

Look, we get it: When your front page is covered in depressing news, like school budget cuts and the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, you need something, um… uplifting. Something to raise spirits and excite readers. So it makes sense for news outlets to keep pumping resources, no matter how dirty and filthy, into their rock-hard journalism, in order for reporters to continue penetrating into the darkest corners of society, relentlessly hammering away at corruption and crime, eventually building up facts and narrative and exploding groundbreaking reporting all over the faces of their readers.

And then there was this smart-ass comment, via Facebook:


I couldn’t wait to see what kind of ad the Sun Sentinel put in that spot today. It turned out to be a jewelry store.


If the jeweler had a sense of humor, it might have been fun to duplicate the ad from the previous day with similar colors, typography and that same sultry woman asking: I’m ready for some diamonds. Are you ready to buy me some?

Those front page images are from the Newseum, of course. Which, thankfully, did not name the Sun Sentinel to its daily Top Ten on Wednesday.

What’s a bubba to do?

The good news: You win the Masters golf tournament for the second time in three years.

The bad news: Your hometown newspaper puts you at the top of page one the next day and then covers you up with a dang-blasted sticker ad:


Well, it certainly defeats the purpose of putting him on page one — that’s for sure. I doubt this helped Gannett sell copies of the Pensacola News Journal this morning.

As someone pointed out via Twitter: The insurance ad says “Call me for a free consultation” and then doesn’t even cite a phone number. If you’re going to have your face on page one blotted out by an ad, at least it should be a competently designed ad.

Thanks to ESPN’s Darren Rovell for retweeting this today. And to my old colleague Eddie Wooten of the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record for retweeting that.

(Full disclosure: Many papers use these types of sticker ads, including my current one.)

  • Sticker ads can sometimes cover up a vital part of your headline.
  • Sticker ads can also create uncomfortable — but hilarious — juxtapositions with editorial content.
  • You know what’s even worse than a sticker ad? A Spadea around page one and a sticker ad, on the same day. That team-up covers a good 65 to 70 percent of your above-the-fold presentation. The Virginian-Pilot did that here and here.
  • Last August, we saw something new: Fake sticker ads.

Behind the UMass Daily Collegian’s full page, page-one ad

Wednesday, the Daily Collegian of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst ran a full-page ad on page one.

The ad was for UMass’ housing  office. Click for a slightly larger view.


Editor-in-chief Stephen Hewitt explained in a column Wednesday:

As our readers who have been here for more than one year may note, we’ve cut down on circulation and cut the Friday paper. Those decisions were difficult, but they allow us the financial stability to continue to produce excellent journalism for you, in-print and online, every day. Today’s unusual ad placement was a decision made for similar reasons.

Don’t anticipate on seeing front page ads all that often (truthfully, they’re expensive). As a staff, we also determined that if major news were to break, the ad would be moved before publication.


Left: Monday’s front page. Right: Wednesday’s ad.

The Daily Collegian column even cited this eight-year-old Slate piece by Jack Shafer as evidence this trend has been going for a while.

I used to blog about these sort of things all the time, but they simply became way too common. There’s preaching against an alarming trend that runs contrary to our missions of a) serving the public and b) selling newspapers, and there’s beating your head against a brick wall. Blogging about this trend felt too much like the latter.

Thanks to James F. Lowe of the Daily Hmpshire Gazette, for the tip.

Is this REALLY the kind of ad you want on your home page…

… on a week like this?


Maybe it is. I don’t know anymore.

Once upon a time, it was enough that we worked hard to stay impartial and we had sharp editors reading behind us to weed out any unfairness.

Then, we had to bend over backward to avoid even the appearance of bias.

And then it became: Oh, screw it. Just take the money and run the ad.

Read more about online ads during the last presidential election here and here.

Yet another tacky-as-hell ad tagged to something in the news

You marveled over Tumbledown Trails Golf Course in Verona, Wis., that offered the tasteless deal: Nine holes of golf for only $9.11 on 9/11.

But did you see the solicitation that dating site OKCupid sent out via email to folks in the Boulder area, where they’ve had catastrophic flooding the past few days?


Not smart.

That was posted yesterday at Failbook. Also, Mother Jones has written about this.

Oh, boy! A new type of obtrusive page-one advertisement!

Q: What’s worse than a sticker ad on the front page of your paper, covering your nameplate and skyboxes?

A: A sticker ad that’s not a sticker ad.


The beauty of a printed sticker ad: Your marketing folks can still sell a sticker ad position. Meaning readers will see a sticker ad, pull it off and there’s another ad underneath.

Yes, obtrusive advertising had reached another low. Thanks to Diego Sorbara of the New York Times for the tip.

Average daily circulation for the Saratogian is just 6,812.

Yet another horrifying gun ad juxtapositon

There was a spectacular shooting incident in Pennsylvania this week. A disgruntled man walked up to a council meeting in Ross Township and opened fire. Two died at the scene, one more victim died later at the hospital and two more were wounded.

When authorities arrested the suspect, the suspect reportedly told them: “I wish I killed more of them!”

It’s a hell of a story. But when you arrived at the bottom of that story by the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, what kind of ad did you find?


Not appropriate.

It’s been fixed now, of course. Thanks to my anonymous tipster for the screencap.

It’d be easy to blame this on contextual algorithms that place ads on some web sites. Like, for example, this one the Hartford Courant had on its web site even four hours after the Newtown shootings in Connecticut last winter.


But I’m sure you remember three similar instances that affected print presentations.

The most spectacular happened in my former newspaper, the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. Dominating the jump page covering the shootings was a giant ad for a local joint pushing Smith & Wesson for Christmas.


The editor of the paper later issued an apology.

The Allentown Morning Call featured a huge gun ad on the front page of its inside news section the next day.

And a month later, the Advocate of Samford, Conn., ran a story about kids returning to school after the tragedy. What was the big ad on the jump page? You guessed it.


Common sense, people. Get some.

(By the way, a young reporter for the Pocono Record didn’t just witness the Pennsylvania shootings, he was forced to crawl out of the carnage. His first-person account is a must-read.)

A spadea can do interesting things to your page-one headline

Here was the front page of Wednesday’s Denver Post.


A perfectly fine front page, right?

Not so much, apparently. Because Denver had one of those dreaded front-page spadea ads yesterday, too. Which turned its fine page-one headline into this:


Linda Shapley, director of newsroom operations for the Post, writes in her blog:

There are some times, in the process of putting out a newspaper, an unfortunate placement of newspaper content creates hilarity — or embarrassment. The front page from Wednesday, I think, falls into the first category.

Find a lot more awkward and amusing juxtapositions here.

You gotta wonder, sometimes, about Google ads

At one point Wednesday, I clicked on a link to a story at the Chicago Tribune about the unfolding IRS scandal.


What I found fascinating were the ads the Tribune added to my news.

First is that Amazon ad across the top. I had been searching for “Harry Truman” earlier in the day. Google knows that and stripped an ad for a Truman biography across the top of the page.

I already own that book — it’s back in Virginia Beach — but that’s fair enough. No harm done.

Secondly, there’s that display ad on the right for retailers TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Neither of those stores sell the big-and-tall sizes I require, so the ad is a complete wash for me. But again: No harm done.

It’s the third ad — that tiny little one below the headline and above the picture of the President of the United States — that really caught my attention. For obvious reasons.



Well, I don’t recall running a Google search for transparent bathing apparel. And if I did, I sure as hell wouldn’t do it on my computer at work. So it seems unlikely that this was generated by cookies in my browser.

The only thing I can figure: I searched last week for stories having to do with political sex scandals. And then this IRS story has the word “scandal” in the headline. So perhaps this was a contextual choice by Google.

No harm done, I suppose. But it sure got a laugh out of me.

President Barack Obama might not be amused by the placement of this ad. But Bill Clinton would have loved it.

Why I don’t mind the spadea wrapped around Monday’s NYT

Yes, that was a spadea wrapped around the front of Monday’s New York Times.


This is new for New York Times readers. And one sent me that picture today.

Note how the front page portion of the spadea actually has news on it. Meaning that when the spadea is in place, the reader doesn’t really notice. The pull-away spadea wrap isn’t obtrusive.

It’s only when the reader pulls the spadea off the front of the paper that she sees the giant, gatefold advertisement within.

This beats hell out of the way that most newspapers use spadeas: To hide the news. I’ve probably used this example way too much, but I’m still stinging from this day in August 2011, when the Virginian-Pilot covered up an important — and visually spectacular — bit of news that involved war fatalities within a group that was based right there in Virginia Beach.

A month or so later, the St. Pete Times did the same thing when a beloved local sports hero passed away unexpectedly.


The San Francisco Chronicle had an advertising spadea scheduled one day a month later still. But when Steve Jobs died, the paper wisely moved the ad wrap to another section. Which preserved this presentation for potential newsstand buyers:

So I’m not so bothered by the Times‘ spadea. At least it’s not hiding news from the reader. I never saw the value in popping an ad in front of a reader who’s trying to look at our news product.

Nice work, Times.

And thanks to my tipster for the photo.

What lousy timing for such an obtrusive ad

The folks at the Los Angeles Times had huge news to report this afternoon: Christopher Dorner — that cop-killing, ex-cop fugitive who’s been on the loose for the better part of a week, now, is smack in the middle of a shootout with police in Big Bear, Calif. (In fact, the standoff is still in progress as I write this at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time/2:30 Pacific Time).

The problem: The Times was also smack in the middle of presenting an ad campaign on its web site. One that featured the gritty police show Southland. One that featured cops with guns drawn, aiming menacingly out of the photo that surrounded the online newshole.

Very unfortunate. Click for a much larger view.


As you can see, the ad consisted of a banner ad atop the news, a smaller ad atop the column of breaking news items, an even smaller ad up top with the paper’s nameplate and then a huge expanse to either side of the main window.

The actual gun battle itself got the biggest news play on the page. But the cops-with-guns ad completely overpowered the actual cops-with-guns story.

The good news: Someone at the Times realized how badly this looked and apparently pulled the plug on the ad fairly quickly. My anonymous tipster — who wrote me from Oregon — wrote back four minutes later today:

To its credit, the L.A. Times appears to have dropped the Southland ad from its home page.

The Times, as you know, has a history of obtrusive advertising — at least, in print. In April 2009, the Times ran a large ad on page one for this same TV show, but the ad was designed to look somewhat like a news story.


Yes, the headline font was different and the word “Advertisement” appeared just below the NBC logo.

In 2010, the Times did this sort of thing a couple of times that I know of. This ad placement for the film Despicable Me wrapped around three sides of the Calendar page…


…however, this ad for the Alice in Wonderland movie appeared to actually leap in front of live news stories.


That’s not what readers were seeing, of course. Those were dummy stories and dummy headlines. This page, in fact, wrapped around that day’s Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps the most egregious use of obtrusive advertising in the LAT was this false section that inserted in July of 2010.


That was the front of a four-page special advertising section. The pictures and stories — which all detailed an unspecified disaster in the metro region — wasn’t fully explained until readers got to the final page, in which they discovered the whole thing was caused by an escapee from Universal Studios amusement park.


The problem was in how real the section looked. The nameplate and fonts in the faux section were nearly identical to those used on the actual local news front.


This got so bad for a while that the Los Angeles county board of supervisors called upon the LAT to knock it off.

In fairness, the Times is hardly the only paper struggling with these issues. In November 2011, the New York Times web site featured a Coca-Cola ad that blotted out the entire screen for several seconds before freeing it up again.

Find lots of examples of obtrusive advertising — in print and online — here.

Not a great magazine advertising juxtaposition

Nope. Not great at all.

Evidently, this appeared in the October issue of Cosmopolitan. It was tweeted earlier today by benjimmin of Manchester, U.K. and then retweeted about a zillion times.

Benjimmin tweets:

For the record, I found the magazine picture elsewhere on t’internet. Don’t want people to think a) I deserve credit or b) I read Cosmo.

Find more fun juxtapositions here.

Why I hate sticker ads

I dislike running two odd juxtaposition items back-to-back. Or three over two days.

But this one — from yesterday’s edition of the Times-Telegraph of Tyler, Texas — is already going viral on Facebook.

The story, obviously, is about alcohol sales and is entitled “Liquid Assets.” But the second half of the second word is hidden by that sticker ad.

The result would be funny enough. But then there’s the topic of the sticker ad.

Thanks to Chris Anderson for alerting me to this one today.

Average daily circulation for the Times-Telegraph is 26,357.

Find more odd — and, sometimes, fun — juxtapositions here.

Does this page one campaign ad bother you?

There was an interesting campaign ad in yesterday’s Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The ad is for the reelection of Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. Seiler. As you can see, it references the endorsement the Sun Sentinel gave him in Friday’s paper.

Click for a larger view.

The problem I have with this: It ran on page one. On election day itself.

I’ve seen campaign ads as stickers on page one on Election Day. I’ve seen campaign ads on plastic delivery bags on Election Day. This, I believe, is the first time I’ve seen an actual page-one campaign ad on Election Day.

Maybe I’m wrong. And maybe the timing and placement of this is no big deal. But — especially given the fact that the paper’s endorsement is featured so prominently here — this weirds me out quite a bit.

What do you think?

Seiler won, for what it’s worth.

That page-one image is from the Newseum. Of course.