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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

The advertising industry has struggled to get eyeballs on their Internet ads, and it’s a problem that affects news organizations that need ad dollars to survive. Now Talking Points Memo has rolled out new “conversation ads” that enable readers to interact directly with advertisers. The idea is to train readers to engage with ads in the ways they engage with news content. The ad that’s running on TPM now is for nuclear energy company Areva. Beneath it, there’s a window and a prompt: “Let us answer your questions.”

Adweek’s Charlie Warzel wrote about these new ads, some of which are geotargeted. Areva’s only running in Washington, D.C., but TPM deputy publisher Callie Schweitzer told me that ads for Current, Bill Maher, and Microsoft TAP have run all over.

As Warzel points out, the “conversation ad” is technically new but based on long-kicked-around ideas. And it may be a good sign that advertisers are finding ways to innovate as the news and advertising industries continue to shift online. Warzel quotes TPM publisher Josh Marshall:

“I think when it actually comes down to it, a lot of agencies and advertisers kind of pull back — not because they’re afraid, but they get comfortable in the way they’ve done it,” Marshall said.

— Adrienne LaFrance
                                   
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