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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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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