Banner Blunder

A seldom-considered Internet dilemma — those embarrassing rotating ad banners.

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Last week the Los Angeles Times unwittingly juxtaposed an ad banner demanding that readers “Follow that Fool!” above a photo of somber Zairean man being marched to his death by rebel soldiers just “moments before execution.” And while this is one of the worst ad blunders we’ve yet seen on the Web, the advertising schemes used by most Web sites (including the MoJo Wire) insure there’ll be plenty more instances like it.

Moments Before
Execution

Magazine and newspaper editors traditionally are wary of putting advertisements and editorial content at odds. But, because struggling online publications want to claim “increased exposure” to their sponsors, many Web sites rotate their advertisements. As a result, the same page might display a different sponsor’s logo each time it’s loaded.

The rotation is automated, so Web editors don’t have much say over placement. And, as the Times demonstrated with the ad for the Motley Fools Web site, the results can be tres unfortunate.

Adding to the confusion, the Times‘ “Featured Photo” pages, unlike those on the rest of the site, lack the thin rule below ad banners that separates them from the site’s content — giving a cutesy ad the look of a hideous headline.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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