The news industry is full of ideas when it comes to experimenting with new storytelling formats and techniques—podcasts, virtual reality, Instagram posts. The list is long, but storytelling across these media and platforms is something the journalism-adjacent advertising industry has been experimenting with for decades. Complex ad-measurement metrics now demonstrate, in granular detail, the effectiveness of traditional advertisements. The rapid adoption of those metrics across the ad industry has forced news organizations to defend how they manages their ad businesses. Publications old and new have to justify the effectiveness of advertisements they create or distribute for clients. This relationship has forced many publications to reimagine their business models as they continue to transition from print to digital.
Newspapers were once able to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single full-page print ad, but as readers abandoned their print subscriptions in favor of digital news, many advertisers realized they were no longer reaching the same large audiences in print. Meanwhile, new digital media began to flourish in the ad-supported digital ecosystem. However, the conventional banner, pre-roll, and pop-up advertising that could be measured for effectiveness was found wanting, to put it mildly—AdAge has described click-through rates on these units as “abysmal.”