If you’ve been over at Gawker lately, you’ve probably noticed some interesting looking banner ads. They are regular leaderboard and skyscraper sizes, but rather than featuring products they show off artists (the one on the left is by Jeremy Corff). It’s all part of a program called Gawker Artists and no matter what you think of Nick Denton and his publications, this is a smart move.
So here’s my thinking: I hardly ever notice banners and even if you don’t buy banner blindness it’s hard to deny that advertising on the web is everywhere. No matter what page your on, there always seems to be something sliding around trying to sell you something. Like most things, it’s only fair to assume that the more we are exposed to, the more immune we become. Which is what makes the Gawker Artists campaign so interesting. By replacing animated banners from advertisers with static banners from artists, Gawker makes you take note of the space again. In essence what they’ve realized is that advertising is media, and in such an over-saturated world, they’ve got to sell it as such: Which means combining content and advertising.
It’s interesting to think about what’s brought this (a need to treat advertising space as media) on since it’s not really a problem other media have to deal with. My best guess is that since every page of a magazine feels essentially the same, it’s not a major issue (plus you naturally are going to flip through as you read). Television, I guess, faces some of the same issues, which is why they are constantly sticking commercials in between cliff-hangers and the such, but they’re still treating the space as a different entity.
I’m mostly just babbling now because I’m not sure what else to say. I think the bottom line is that there are some lessons to take away from this and I expect many others to follow Gawker’s lead and add more value to their advertising space. It’s also quite relieving to me that the ads I have noticed recently have been art: As if my mind hasn’t been so poisoned by terrible ads that I can’t notice anymore (though I can only assume one outcome of this will be advertisers hiring these artists . . . which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).