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Traditional news still lags in online advertising, study says

February 12, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Experts say TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines that have websites need to make ads that are more vibrant and multi-dimensional. That's not unlike one theory in the billboard industry, in which 3-D ads, like this one in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are becoming more prevalent.
Experts say TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines that have websites… (Sarah Dussault/Sun Sentinel )

Traditional media outlets “have had little success” getting advertisers to move from their legacy businesses to their online news sites and relatively few of the ads they create for the Web are targeted to customers based on their interests, according to a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The struggle of traditional news organizations to adapt to the online world “throws into question the financial future of journalism as audiences continue to migrate online,” according to the group, an arm of the Pew Research Center.

The researchers took a snapshot of ads last summer at 22 top news sites and then took a second look in January. Three of the sites--Yahoo News, Nytimes.com and CNN.com targeted nearly half or more of their ads, based on users’ previous Web habits.

The researchers found that even when they  cleared their browser histories, information sometimes known as “cookies,” the news outlets could still deliver content-specific ads. Getting selected ads to amenable customers allows publishers to charge higher ad rates—usually set as a price per thousand impressions or CPM, the study noted.

But the review found that news outlets still tend to rely most heavily on static “banner” ads. Still rare are targeting ads and so-called "rich-media" ads that pop on the screen or animate content within an ad.

Video ads are expected to continue their rapid expansion of recent months online. The firm eMarketer predicts $7.11 billion will be spent on video by 2015. That would put video only behind search, dominated by Google, and behind banner ads, as the biggest segment of the online ad spending universe.

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