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June 17, 2006

What bookofjoe can learn from The Huffington Post


Julie Bosman, in yesterday's New York Times Business section, explored The Huffington Post's approach to advertising.

Extremely interesting.

Long story short: "Kenneth B. Lerer, a founder of The Huffington Post, said he had tried to make the ads on the site both unobtrusive and compelling."


Great minds think alike: those are my sentiments precisely.

I think you will agree with me that the ads on bookofjoe are unobtrusive.

Say what?

There are no ads?

Please, no negativity here in Pollyanna World.

We're just across the wormhole, by the way, from the Bizarro World.

FunFact: A one-month ad on The Huffington Post home page costs between $120,000 and $145,000.


Above and below, the two ads currently running on The Huffington Post's home page.

They are quiet (no animation) and low-key, with minimal text and restrained colors.

An excellent model, should I opt to accept advertising on bookofjoe.


Here's the Times story.

    JWT Puts a 'Roadblock' on Huffington Post

    Old school, meet new.

    JWT, the oldest advertising agency in the United States, has purchased all the ad space on The Huffington Post home page for one week, starting tomorrow. The Web site will showcase nine of JWT's best television commercials with links, so that visitors can send the spots via e-mail or instant message.

    JWT is hoping that the year-old Huffington Post can deliver that elusive phenomenon: a viral marketing sensation, in which consumers spread marketing messages to each other over the Internet.

    The agency also wants to show that it is hip and modern enough to compete in the nontraditional category that has obsessed the advertising industry.

    At The Huffington Post, the agency has found an experienced partner in Jonah Peretti, a founding partner of the Web site, who is overseeing the technical aspects of the JWT project.

    Mr. Peretti's name has been tied to viral media since 2001, when he traded e-mail barbs with Nike after the shoemaker refused to let Mr. Peretti order a pair of customized Nike iD sneakers emblazoned with the word "sweatshop." Much to Nike's chagrin, the e-mail exchange quickly spread over the Internet, and is considered an early example of how viral media can work.

    Now Mr. Peretti and The Huffington Post are hoping to make a handful of previously run commercials from JWT alluring enough that visitors will not only click and watch the spots, but will also e-mail them to others.

    "People often ask me, 'how do you make something viral?' " Mr. Peretti said. "The truth is, you just make something good. That doesn't make something viral, but some of them will strike a nerve."

    Formerly known as J. Walter Thompson, JWT dumped its old name last year in an effort to shed its stodgy reputation and signal that it was ready to adapt to a changing advertising industry. Some of the biggest traditional Madison Avenue agencies are fighting the perception that they are not nimble, modern and innovative enough to compete with smaller, creatively focused agencies that have grabbed much of the limelight.

    Before the deal with JWT, Mr. Peretti was not familiar with the agency, which has more than 300 offices around the world. "I had heard the name before," he said, "but I'm not an ad world person."

    He did help select the commercials that will run on The Huffington Post, which include spots for JetBlue, Levi's, Ford, HSBC and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. At least a few ads were probably chosen for their provocative nature: a spot for Levi's depicts stick figures becoming romantically entangled, and an antigun ad shows two unsupervised children narrowly avoiding discovering a gun in a cupboard, only to find a lighter and a stash of cigarettes. (They immediately light up.)

    Other companies like Snapple and Target have recently used the so-called roadblock method, in which a Web site, magazine or radio program is blanketed with messages from a single advertiser. While a typical one-month ad on The Huffington Post home page ranges from $120,000 to $145,000, the one-week deal has cost JWT a sum in the low six figures.

    The ad buy is timed to run during the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, which begins in France on Sunday. The weeklong event of awards, seminars and workshops draws advertising professionals from all over the world.

    In a telephone interview from Paris, Bob Jeffrey, the chairman and chief executive of JWT Worldwide, part of the WPP Group, said that JWT and The Huffington Post had picked commercials that they thought were "the most sticky, the ones that would get the most traction."

    Lacking traditional measurement tactics, "what you really want to do is get the brand talked about," Mr. Jeffrey said. "Viral marketing is all about engagement with the brand."

    The Huffington Post's traffic makes the ads ripe for engagement: the site attracted nearly 1.2 million unique visitors in May, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings, a market research firm. Display online advertising is expected to grow 13 percent in 2006 over 2005, according to data released on Tuesday from TNS Media Intelligence.

    Kenneth B. Lerer, a founder of The Huffington Post, said he had tried to make the ads on the site both unobtrusive and compelling. "I'm kind of obsessed with making advertising on the Internet more like content," he said.

    Though his partner in the deal typifies much of what new media is about, Mr. Jeffrey of JWT said that the advertising industry's obsession with nontraditional media was "absolutely" an overreaction. "What drives me crazy is when the attitude is that traditional media is going to die," Mr. Jeffrey said. "I don't think print died when TV came on."

June 17, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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