The Newsweek Daily Beast Company launched a new site makeover for Newsweek.com on Wednesday, and it looks more like a sleek Tumblr blog than a stodgy print paper.
The aesthetic is clean, bright, and sparse. The look and feel was partially inspired by The New York TImes' multimedia story “Snow Fall” that caught audiences and publishers by surprise with the immersive experience. In an ambitious move, Newsweek plans to do the same — on a weekly basis.
Notice anything else about the site? That's right — there are no display ads. For now, at least.
There will be no ads during the beta stage for the site. When ads are introduced, Newsweek CEO Baba Shetty tells us not to expect a standard IAB ad unit.
Instead, Newsweek will pursue a sponsorship model featuring one advertiser in each article. The sponsorship units will rotate so that each time someone reads a story, they will be served a different ad. "They're going to be bold, beautiful, high-impact units," he said in an Ad Age interview.
The Newsweek team plans to focus on making the ads complementary to the editorial content. When consumers are presented with relevant ads that less intrusive in format and content, it could lead to higher returns for advertisers. This decision fits into the overall trend of using native advertising to circumvent banner blindness, since most consumers are used to ignoring display ads.
The epic "Snow Fall" piece in the The New York Times showed the expansive possibilities that digital media can offer. The story itself was strong though, and Mr. Shetty understands that there's a place for long-form, reflective articles that grasp readers and inspire journalists.
His team is working on offering this multi-media experience with content and ads, on a regular basis. What remains to be seen is how audiences respond to this experience and how scalable the process is.