I don’t know about you, but one thing I really miss when I click the print button on a newspaper website is the lack of ads. Thankfully, the StarTribune has solved this “problem” by serving full color ads within the print version. Large ads, like the ProFlowers one, appear near the bottom of each printed page; an ad for the third party service that makes this happen appears in the footer; and a house ad is currently running in the upper right hand part of each page.
They’ve also switched to 2-column formatting. Put that all together, and it’s likely going to take more ink and more sheets of paper to print a Strib piece.
To pile on further, they’ve running a few additional ads on the print preview window.
The print version advertising service, Format Dynamics has a testimonial from Director of Online Advertising at the Denver News Agency, David Harwood, explaining the benefits:
“An innovative product that has created a new revenue stream, a better user experience for our readers, and improved results for our advertisers.”
Mr. Harwood, how could it possibly be considered a better user experience for users to subject them to slower interfaces, with large ads, that takes more ink and pages to print? Does the new revenue stream make up for the disservice?
I unbookmarked StarTribune.com last October (I think it was October) after becoming fed up with their pop-under ads, auto-refreshing of pages, etc. but received a link to a story recommended to me today so I ended up on their site. Sadly, the story was paginated (spread out over more than one page in order to increase page views while wasting my time). (Doodledee has been working on fixing this particular Strib annoyance.)
To me, putting ads in the printable version is double taxation advertising. People viewed the ads associated with the story before clicking the print button, so subjecting them to more ads is the same as telling people they can’t clip articles out of the print version of the paper unless they keep the ads attached.
This bums me out because I really like to read what’s worth reading. Hidden between Favre and Michael Jackson updates, there is a ton of stuff worth reading . . . if only it was readable. And, if it’s worth reading, it may be worth passing on to others to read as well (aka, generating additional page views and ad impressions for the Strib for free). However, I’m not about to subject people I know and respect to the current StarTribune.com experience.