Big Idea – Cliff Sloan
In the light-speed world of Web publishing, online magazine Slate.com is challenged to remain ahead of the pack in both creative content presentation and an ad model to match. As a result, the site recently launched a fully-featured video product called Slate V and is touting it as a prime example of its strategy of packaging compelling content with unique advertising opportunities.
"We set it as a goal that our advertising would be known as being just as innovative as Slate’s editorial content," says Cliff Sloan, publisher, Slate.com and vice president of business affairs and general counsel at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. "It fits with Slate perfectly and it works well with the advertisers. So that’s a very important part of our strategy, to be a place where innovative advertising on the Internet is done."
Examples include BizBox, an American Express-sponsored section on Slate where bloggers post on the small business market; and a Ford-sponsored "Boredom Gallery" of Slate.com content related to boredom that ties in with the automaker’s boredom campaign. But Slate V is the site’s showcase effort to develop new content with a substantial advertising tie-in and one in particular that Sloan has supported with significant resources. "We’re bringing Slate’s editorial sensibility to video," he says. "And unlike a lot of other video sites, where there are thousands of videos people have to slosh through to find something of interest, Slate V reflects an editor’s sensibility," says Sloan.
Launched in June, Slate V attracted over one million views in its first month, with on site traffic of 5 million users per month. The advertising model focuses on exclusive sponsorships. "There’s a great demand for online video right now so we thought that there was a opportunity for it to be a good business proposition as well as a compelling editorial proposition," says Sloan.
But as with any resource-heavy endeavor, there’s an element of risk that goes along with it. "One risk is the expense involved. Another is getting a sufficient audience and being able to have and generate the kind of content that we want. We have high standards for the content, and we want to be presenting Web video in a way that doesn’t exist right now," says Sloan.
"We pride ourselves on taking informed risks when it fits with the identity of the magazine."
"A lot of times it’s easier to do what you’re familiar with. It takes work, so there’s a time factor and an energy factor to it."
"We want to continue to expand our role as the most innovative site for advertising on the Internet."
By not meeting the high demand for interactive advertising on the Web, marketers will look elsewhere.