iMedia Connection

The latest innovations from 8 top online publishers

Lori Luechtefeld

For media buyers, staying abreast of the latest advertising opportunities offered by online publishers is vital to ensure you're making the most of your ad dollars. But it's not always simple. New platforms like the iPad are dramatically changing the online advertising game in drastic yet exciting ways, and fast-evolving channels like mobile present their own challenges and opportunities in ad delivery.

At ad:tech New York next week, eight top online publishers will convene to form the OPA [Online Publishers Association] Publishers Zone, an special exhibit hall section dedicated to showcasing some of the latest content and ad opportunities of interest to online marketers. "The OPA is delighted to partner with ad:tech to create the OPA Publishers Zone for our members to showcase their latest innovations in online content and advertising," said Pam Horan, president of the OPA.

In this article, we'll give you an advance look into some of the innovations that will be on display from each company.

Fox News Digital
This year, Fox News Digital embarked on a dramatic investment and network upgrade schedule. The audience received a completely overhauled FoxNews.com, culminating with a new and more appealing homepage, with category-first ad takeover executions. Meanwhile, FoxBusiness.com was redesigned this fall in order to capitalize on its recent growth and in celebration of its third anniversary. Additionally, Fox News Latino launched in October to much fan fare, thereby positioning Fox News to capitalize on a large and growing Latino audience.

Fox News Digital has also introduced Fox News Plus, a new advertiser solution that provides premium targeting services and insights. Fox News Plus will continue to offer the same quality audience and advertiser experience that its partners have come to expect, plus a host of new data and technology services to maximize advertiser effectiveness across the Fox News Digital Network.

iVillage and MSNBC

iVillage
Community is the heart of soul of iVillage, which attracts more than 30 million women each month to connect, share, and seek advice on topics that matter most to them. To put the power of storytelling directly in the hands of these millions of women, iVillage and NBC Local Media launched a unique, nationwide search for local citizens across America to contribute, chronicle, and share "real" women-centric topics that matter most to them and their community. A top selection committee of journalism experts, including Today's Natalie Morales, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, LXTV's Jane Hanson, and iVillage chief correspondent Kelly Wallace, chose 15 diverse and dynamic community members to become part of a newly created program called "iVoices on iVillage." Through this unprecedented program, these women were given a one-of-a-kind opportunity to provide blogs and video commentary for iVillage, and possibly select NBC local markets. The topics center on areas that are most important to women in categories such as health, pregnancy and parenting, finance, entertainment, and beauty and style -- mirroring the kinds of meaningful conversations that are being discussed on iVillage each day.

MSNBC Digital Network
The MSNBC Digital Network recently unveiled its new ad-rendering system called ServeView and announced that it has been rolled out across 100 percent of its story pages. ServeView intelligently places ads on the page when and where consumers will see them. With ServeView, the company says advertisers are assured that every ad impression they purchase has, in fact, been seen by consumers.

When a story page loads, consumers interact with the video, text, photos, and other content on the page. As that is happening, the ServeView technology seamlessly runs on the page and will only render the ad once the ad location is within the viewable area of the consumer's display. Then and only then is the ad counted as a delivered impression. ServeView works for each individual ad on every browser and every screen size.

In addition to better-performing ads, marketers benefit from optimized ad views without any effects or changes to standard ad delivery practices in use today. The MSNBC Digital Network says that ServeView in full compliance with the Interactive Advertising Bureau's impression measurement guidelines and, in fact, improves upon its baseline recommendations.

NPR and Reuters

NPR
Baseball season is winding down, but NPR has bases loaded in the mobile space. As the world's largest podcaster and an innovator on the iPhone, NPR says its new iPad app has the network poised for a grand slam this year.

The strength of the app is in its simplicity -- an extension of NPR's uncompromising, uncluttered environment on-air and online. A magazine-centric approach is built for gesture navigation and generates significant user engagement in the app; user sessions last more than 10 minutes on average, with engagement spanning text, audio, and multimedia content.

The sponsorship treatment is both innovative and understated. Each sponsor receives a session roadblock, with its logo integrated into the app for the duration of a user session. With the launch of the media player, users also receive a short audio sponsorship credit tied to a full-page interstitial. This unit has seen click-through rates as high as 20 percent, helped by innovative creative developed in partnership with Medialets, a leading rich media ad solution provider for the app space.

The NPR iPad app has been downloaded onto nearly 10 percent of the iPads sold to date and is also used on demo units in Apple stores.

Reuters
Financial news and information website Reuters.com prides itself on offering best-of-breed products, exciting early adopters, and creating customized solutions for marketers. With the launch of Apple's iPad, Reuters seized the opportunity to meet all three objectives by creating an application called News Pro that harnesses the IOS platform with video-rich stories, dramatic photography, and lively market data.

"We reach our customers no matter where they are," says Reuters general manager Riley McDonough. "And that means leveraging our strengths to the fullest by providing a rich, robust experience through multimedia storytelling."

More than 20 million page views are generated each month through Reuters' mobile touch points alone. These innovations, including Reuters News Pro app for the iPhone, which has been downloaded more than 500,000 times, caught the attention of FedEx. The company came to Reuters early on in the development of its News Pro iPad app to sign on as the inaugural sponsor and reach a targeted audience of business decision makers. "We have global scope and the targeted reach necessary for marketers to meet their campaign goals," McDonough said.

In addition, Reuters remains committed to bettering the customer experience and increasing advertiser demand with plans to revamp of all its mobile sites by end of the year.

TechMediaNetwork, Turner, and WSJ

TechMediaNetwork
At No. 3 in the comScore Tech News rankings, TechMediaNetwork is one of the fastest-growing publishers of high-quality technology and science news, reviews, videos, and reference articles. With the help of award-winning journalists, TechMediaNetwork focuses on helping consumers navigate the glut of information by becoming a trusted advisor on the subjects of interest to readers.

TechMediaNetwork starts with TopTenReviews, which offers reviews of more than 550 categories of products and services; Space.com, which is the authoritative source for astronomy and space exploration news and analysis; and LiveScience, focusing on the study of psychology, sociology, and human behavior for people curious about their minds, bodies, and the world around them.

This year, TechMediaNetwork expanded its trusted advisor role by launching eight new websites that focus on high-quality content in specific vertical areas of interest. Those sites include BusinessNewsDaily, a comprehensive resource for people who are in the process of starting up a business; OurAmazingPlanet, a site that explores the wonder and beauty of Earth; iPadNewsDaily, an accessible source of iPad news and information for both non-geeks and seasoned iPad users; NorthOrion, tools to help consumers and businesses navigate purchasing decisions in a wide variety of topics; and MyHealthNewsDaily, information about the latest medical research and health news and trends.

Turner
Turner/SI Digital sales, a division of Turner Broadcasting Inc., along with sales colleagues at CNN Digital, formed the Turner Network in 2008 as a solutions-driven alternative to third-party ad network and exchanges. It combines the company's exceptional digital resources under one in-house sales force to offer advertising partners distinct opportunities that leverage Turner's portfolio of digital properties that include leading news, entertainment, sports, and kids' sites.

One of the first exclusive products to come out of this collaboration was the Turner Netblock, which is a homepage roadblock that uses the OPA pushdown unit executed simultaneously across Turner-operated websites. The Netblock was developed to provide advertising partners quality audiences, at scale, under one safe branded platform to help clients achieve their campaign objectives. Executed for the first time in late 2009, the Netblock continues to be a popular and effective product with advertisers for its high-impact placement. From CNN.com to NBA.com, and everything in between, the product has proved especially attractive to clients unveiling new creative or launching new branding for a particular service or product. The Turner Netblock can be purchased alone or as one part of a comprehensive media buy.

Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal for iPad blends the best of print and online. It offers the look of the Journal while providing updated news and information, full-screen video, market data, and customizable features, including the ability to save articles and full sections -- such as What's News, Marketplace, Money & Investing, Greater New York, and Personal Journal -- for later or offline reading. Share and save features allow an even more personalized experience.

The platform allows users to experience the visuals and interaction of digital with the more familiar look of print, which has proven a successful combination; the app has been downloaded more than 700,000 times since launch. In addition, advertiser response proves the app's ability to help them reach the Journal's high-quality audience via innovative ad units in a dynamic environment; six exclusive sponsors signed on for the launch, with more on board in the following months.

Lori Luechtefeld is editor of iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow Luechtefeld at @loriluechtefeld. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.