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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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From front page ads to ads that entirely displace the front page

December 28th, 2013 · 22 Comments · Business, Media

How times change.

Back in 2000, the appearance of ads on the front page was news. Here’s what I noted back in May 2000:

Bloomberg reported this week that Gannett’s 73 local newspapers are now authorized to print front page advertisements. I’m sure this move is not welcomed by reporters, who must view it as another blurring of the boundary between news and advertising and, as a result, a further erosion of professional integrity. I know it’s just about money, but the implications are significant.

According to Bloomberg, there is a waiting list for ad space on the front page of USA Today.

A year later, in June 2001, Star-Bulletin writer Erika Engle noted the Honolulu Advertiser’s first use of prime, front-page real estate for advertising. It was considered a “breakthrough idea” at the time. The title of her column: “Pizza ad raises eyebrows,causes a stir.”

She wrote:

Tongues were set wagging yesterday by a Domino’s Pizza advertisement on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser. All 98 Gannett Co. Inc. dailies now offer a portion of the front page for sale — it started with USA Today in 1999.

Gannett Public Affairs and Government Relations Director Tara Connell said the ads are sold at a premium rate.

Dave Franks, marketing director for advertiser Higa Industries Hawaii Inc., which does business as Domino’s Pizza Hawaii, declined to reveal the rate the company paid.

“As you know,” he said, “there’s so much clutter in newspaper, radio and television that as an advertiser we were really looking for a unique, breakthrough idea.”

Well, yesterday’s home edition of the Star-Advertiser–the one delivered to subscribers’ homes–took the idea to a new level with not only a full faux front page of ads, but a complete advertising sec ion that wrapped around the real news.

Here’s what the faux front section looked like, with the “real” front page displayed after being pulled out from inside. Notice the font used for the banner “Floor Clearance” in the faux front page looks like the same one used in the “Star-Advertiser” header in the “real” news.

Dec. 27, 2013

It’s just about money, so I’m trying not to make any judgements. At least one person who emailed me referred to is as more evidence of “the further decline of newspapers.” On the other hand, all that advertising was captured by the newspaper and was not lost to the online world, perhaps evidence that newspapers have a few more years of life before disappearing.

Any thoughts?

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