Did WSJ.com and NYTimes.com cross the line last week?

0DyrbUu_dxsPzzfMMoG3GmWNcQ3qhST2XVvCPK9xktsLast week, I wrote that while I believed it was brilliant, the animated Apple advertisement that appeared on the front page of NYTimes.com and, especially, the Wall Street Journal website, may have crossed some as-yet-determined line of what is okay — or not okay — with online advertising on news-media websites. In that post, I wrote: “The ad’s headline is in a little ruled box, but it’s in a font that is extremely similar to the actual headlines on the page…it’s obvious to you and me and probably 99% of the WSJ.com and NYTimes.com readers that this is an ad, but if this had appeared in a magazine, well, let’s just say it would have at least needed some clarification or a major ASME bruhaha would be taking place today.” Later, David Kaplan of PaidContent.org noted that the folks at NYTimes.com had decided to limit the giant ads to “once a month.”

I thought by displaying the current news-screaming front page of WSJ.com with last week’s “ad giant” front page may demonstrate why it’s a challenge to experiment with editorial real-estate and conventions that you have trained readers to believe are reserved for only the most major news story. In this case, I think the experiment — despite its brilliance as advertising — needs some re-thinking.