new online ad system is trying a new way of using online ads.

About 20% of their articles are available by subscription only. However, now you can get a 12-hour pass to these articles by viewing a Mercedes ad. The ad takes up four screens, and you click on each one to continue. I’ve done it - it takes 30 seconds or less, and it’s very easy (I have a cable modem). For someone like me who only wants an occasional article, it’s a good deal.

I don’t know how I’d feel if every site on the web did this, but if I think the site’s worth it, I’d be willing to at least try it. Of course, the SDMB would qualify. I’d also go along with this for occasional access to CNN’s video.

I do have some concerns.

Will this scheme actually work?

Will the ads lengthen until they’re a real nuisance to sit through?

These ads will be a greater burden to people with slower connections. How big of a problem will this be?


I think it depends on whether the ad is used responsibly.

If its a VOLUNTARY thing (if you WISH to find out more/have more access etc. THEN you can do this) then no problem i’m all for it.

If, however, it was more a compulsory thing (if you want to see ANYTHING, then you MUST do this) then i’d be off that site straight away - no question about it.

I think if it is to be used successfully then it must also be clear from the beginning exactly how long the ads will take/how many of them there are. I’d be seriously annoyed if i were fooled into thinking i’d only have to see 2 or 3 ads when actually there were a lot more.

I think it’s a very clever idea. It means Mercedes get a high-hit rate, and presumably quite a suitable audience (intelligent, literate, hopefully high net worth).

You only get 12-hour access, so it’s not like Salon are jeopardising permanent subscription rates.

On the other hand you get access to lots of articles during that time, so your ad-watching effort is worth it.

Also, if you get hooked on articles during your trial, you may want to become a permanent subscriber.

Great, great, great. Win all round - for Mercedes, for Salon, and for the web surfer.

Very clever idea, but it will not work in most casual cases. When I am reading articles (usually linked from and the like) I will always close a window that does not take me directly to the information, requires signing up with a valid email, or one which forces me to watch advertising first. The exception would be in doing research or something important, in which case I would gladly watch an ad as opposed to paying to do so.


Why do I say this? Because the way internet ads are going is toward the more annoying. When regular banners stopped drawing attention, we got flashing banners. We got pop-unders. We got pop-ups. We got Invues (a small box that slides across the screen). We got moving ads. We got pop-ups that spawn five more pop-ups. Etc.

The more annoying the ad, the more it pays. Trust me, I run four websites, I know. Personally, I run banners, skyscrapers, flashing versions of both, Invues, and popunders with an occasional pop-up thrown in (very occasional). I drew the line at the multiple-spawning pop-ups even though it pays a lot more. I just wasn’t going to do that to my users.

But the point is that ads will continue to get more annoying because that is the way they get people to pay attention.