These days, the debate over front-page newspaper advertising seems quaint. And critiquing the ads that are there seems hypocritical, given the several dozen columns I’ve written about print’s decreasing ability to attract paying customers.
But Sunday’s Pioneer Pioneer Press is noteworthy because it features not one but two banner ads, which is unusual if not unprecedented. The layout means the PiPress can only feature three stories, and only one with any real graphic oomph on the week’s biggest circulation day.
The ads certainly make an impression; big and bold, they look like they take up far more of the front page than the 33 percent they actually do. I hope the PiPress cashed in big.
Amid the Advertising Depression, publishers are ever more willing to put ads in new places and arrange them in unconventional ways. Target is usually involved, as you can see in earlier BrauBlog pieces here and here, though the Mall of America gets bigger play on this particular PiPress front.
The Mall of America ad replaces the above-the-nameplate “skyboxes” that tout other stories inside the paper. As a reader (but definitely not a design expert), I’ve never found the skyboxes all that useful, so perhaps not much is lost.
I couldn’t find another double-banner layout in a speedy scroll through other newspaper front pages at Newseum.org. I made sure to glance at big papers run by PiPress owner Media News Group.
For comparison’s sake, here’s Sunday’s Star Tribune front:
It features the now-ubiquitous single banner, though you’ll notice a smaller spot in the upper right. That means promoting only a single inside feature in the skybox. However, the layout means two front-page stories get photos, and there’s room for a few more design elements.
In the end, does the difference matter to you?