Buying Your Side Of The Story On Page One

Nat Ives writes in AdAge about companies that have taken recent “WSJ news knocks” when their front-page advertising coincides with front-page negative stories:

Advertisers are finding that the front-page ads in The Wall Street Journal — now available for nearly $100,000 a pop — may be a great way to reach the business world, but they can also be disastrous if bad news about their companies appears on page one the same day.Nat calls this new type of front-page advertising “high-reward, high-risk real estate.”

What I don’t understand is why we assume that a front-page ad juxtaposed with a negative story is necessarily bad. I guess it’s bad if the ad is nothing more than self-gratuitous fluff, placed next to a damning story about a company’s scandal or poor performance. The clash of harsh editorial and subjective ad copy just zings.

But what if companies were given in advance – even if only a few hours – the opportunity to strategically place an ad next to a negative story to counter its impact? American news organizations often talk about giving both sides an opportunity to tell the story, within the editorial. In politics, there are even equal time guidelines for media organizations. But, separate from editorial decisions, how about selling any organization ad real estate to tell its side of the story with such contextual precision?

This is a contextual targeting practice that often is done in online search, and what my colleague often calls defensive branding in the context of consumer-generated media. Is there any reason why it can’t it be done in the still-wide-circulation real-estate of print news?


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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