Making sure front page ads are truly ‘additive’

Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller (left) made that pledge when he announced Friday that one of the nation’s biggest metropolitan newspapers would soon start publishing ads on page one. “We will make sure the revenue is additive, and not just switched from other pages,” Hiller said in a memo. The Times writes about the change here.

Hiller was spurred by what appears to be a pretty amazing dropoff in second-quarter revenue. It slid 10% and cash flow plunged 27%, “making it one of the worst quarters ever experienced,” Hiller said. Year to date, ad revenue is down 8%.

But Editor James O’Shea said he “vigorously opposed” putting ads on Page One, the Times story says, and advised the publisher against doing so. “Front-page ads diminish the newspaper, cheapen the front page and reduce the space devoted to news,” O’Shea said. “This would be a huge mistake that will penalize the reader.”

Gannett newspapers long ago bowed to corporate and started publishing ads on section fronts. But I’ve always wondered how publishers like Hiller can ensure the ads don’t simply move the same revenue around the paper. Can anyone explain? Comment, below, please!

[Photo: Los Angeles Times]

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