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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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