On custom content deals with sponsors: We were seeing such demand for sponsored content, and because we really do see it as one of the key points of differentiation for us, we built an internal creative services team, which is essentially like a studio within Gawker. So an advertiser would say, “We want to reach the Gizmodo [gadget enthusiast site] audience and we have this particular message.” They work with our folks to apply the appropriate tone and feel for Gizmodo, to ensure that it has the best potential to really resonate with the audience, as opposed to just some boilerplate corporate copy. The fact that the content is slugged “sponsored” is really secondary, because if it’s good and there’s a benefit to the reader, then that’s still a positive experience.

An example of sponsored content: We had a Comic-Con sponsorship with Sprint, and the package that our team put together garnered over a million pageviews.

On mobile: With mobile we’re talking about handheld and tablet. With handheld, to be honest, the consumption is because it’s convenient. I’m walking down the street, I’m on my device and I can gobble up five articles and that’s great. But from the advertising side of it, half the time you can’t even read whatever the particular call to action in the ad unit is. There just has to be a better experience that can be brought to the user so people can really monetize it. We spend a lot of time thinking about it now. The tablet mimics the desktop experience, which is much cleaner. I think there are a ton of cool things that can happen with swipe and things of that nature, but on handheld it’s really tough.

On creating richer ad experiences on the Web: When you see a beautiful ad spread in a magazine, it catches your eye. There’s a richness to that experience. That’s what’s been so difficult for people to replicate online. With larger ad units and more of the interactivity that provides, there’s more of that engagement. Without that richness, you’ll have a wonky ad sitting there and you’re, like, “Why is this thing blinking at me? It’s distracting me.” It doesn’t have to be a distraction. 


More in Cover Story

Made for you and me

Read More »

Simon Dumenco is the media columnist at Advertising Age and a contributing editor at Details. He's a veteran of both print (e.g., he was editor of the National Magazine Award-winning media column at New York magazine and consulting executive editor on the launch of O: The Oprah Magazine) and digital (he was founding editorial director of nymag.com and founding editor of Very Short List, etc.).